Rabbi Eisen’s Shabbat Shalom Message
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Friday, October 31, 2014 • 5:15pm
• Our Portion for the Week •
LEKH-LEKHA – GENESIS 12:1 – 17:27
In this portion we meet Abraham who, at 75, leaves his home in Mesopotamia, at God's command, and travels to Canaan with his wife, Sarah, and his nephew, Lot, to become the father of a great nation. Abraham meets a number of challenges that test his faith in God and his resourcefulness. He has a son with Hagar, Sarah's handmaid, since Sarah appears to be barren. He also enters into a covenant (B'RIT) with God that is symbolized by circumcision (B'RIT MILAH), thus laying the ground for the development of the Jewish people and its special relationship to God.
• Our Question for the Week •
Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the people, and take the possessions for yourself.' But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth: I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, 'It is I who made Abram rich.
How do Abraham's participation in war and his behavior thereafter make him an especially apt model for contemporary Jews?
It is no coincidence that the spoils of war that Abraham declined were offered by the king of Sodom – a city state associated with moral corruption and xenophobia. Would Abraham have acted any differently if a less unseemly ally had sought to enrich him? What are the dangers inherent in entering into alliances with despotic leaders and corrupt regimes? What are the moral justifications for such alliances?
What motivated Abraham to decline wealth to which arguably he was entitled? Strategic foresight? Nomadic tradition? Faith in God? A lack of material ambition? More attractive commercial opportunities?