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Shalom and Bracha!

   This Shabbat we read the portion of Lech Lecha, which begins with Hashem commanding Avraham to leave the land of his fathers and go to the land of Israel. The portion continues with Hashem's promise to give them Jewish people the land of Israel and concludes with the Mitzvah of circumcision. Avraham is the father of the Jewish people and the lessons in this week’s portion are significant directives in our lives and service of Hashem.

   The commandment to go to Israel was the first communication that Avraham received from Hashem. While in his father’s home, Avraham reached the awareness of the unity of G-d through his own logic. Furthermore, he reached a pinnacle of humanitarian greatness independently. This week, Hashem spoke to him. Interestingly, Hashem didn't tell him to go to Israel. Rather, He told Avraham to go to the land Hashem would show him. This is because He wanted that Avraham should go to Israel because of His commandment rather than the unique qualities of the Holy Land. This is the foundation of our keeping of the Torah. When we do a Mitzvah, we must do it because it is the will of Hashem. Although our appreciation of the Mitzvah adds fervor and depth to the Mitzvah, the foundation must be to fulfill Hashem's will.

  The literal meaning of the words “Lech Lecha” is go to yourself. What does this mean? Rashi explains that Hashem promised Avraham that the journey would be for his own benefit. Although travel is costly and unsettling, Hashem assured him the journey would bring wealth, fame and the blessing of children. This is a promise to each of us that through subjugating our will to that of Hashem we will receive blessings that we can appreciate in our own lives. In a deeper sense, Hashem told him go to your true being! By subjugating his will to that of G-d's Avraham would not negate his self, but would instead reach his own true essence. This is because ego stifles our potential and self realization.

   When the Torah describes Avraham's circumcision, it says that it was done in the midst of the day. Rashi explains that some people threatened that if Avraham would go through with the circumcision, they would kill him. Therefore the Torah says it was done in the midst of the day, in an open manner, to demonstrate that Hashem protected Avraham. This parallels Rashi’s commentary concerning Noach’s entering the ark in the midst of the day. The people of his generation planned to kill him if he entered the ark. Therefore Hashem had him enter in the midst of the day, to demonstrate that they were helpless to foil His plans. The desire to prevent Noach from entering the ark is understandable: the people knew they were destined to die. Why, however, did circumcision bring forth such resistance? This will be understood by a deeper look at the meaning of a Brit, which means a covenant. Earlier in the portion, when Hashem made the Brit to give Israel to Avraham, He told Avraham to slice various animals in half. He then showed him a vision of a great fire passing through the halves. This was a symbol that Hashem and Avraham became like to halves of a single entity.

   A Brit means a bond that defines who we are. The Brit is a bond that transcends our behavior, feelings and logic. From the moment of the Brit we became a people forged with Hashem, and our very flesh testifies thereto. Whether we feel it, like it, or understand it, we are one with Hashem. This great step aroused jealousy and continues to do so until today.

   In this portion Avraham built three altars. The commentaries explain that they parallel the three Temples: King Solomon’s, Ezra’s and the eternal Temple to be built by Moshiach. May we speedily merit his coming.

   Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

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