Friday, November 07, 2008

Lech Lecha 5632 Second Ma'amar

The Midrash in this week’s parsha compares Avraham Avinu to a traveler who comes upon a burning mansion. Seeing no one, he assumes that the mansion has no owner. Just then, the owner comes out, looks at him and says, “I am the mansion’s owner!” The burning mansion represents the world and the owner represents God. Why does Avraham think that the world has no master? What is this Midrash teaching us?

We can get an idea from the Zohar in this week’s parsha. According to the Zohar, God gave Avraham Avinu the ability to “see” the spiritual guardians of each of the nations of the world. But Avraham was unable to “see” the spiritual guardian of Israel. Seeing the various spiritual forces governing the various nations of the world, it seemed that there was no unifying force, no “owner”. It seemed very chaotic. Then he became aware that the creation of the world started from Israel and derives its power to exist from Israel. He then understood that God was the power behind the Creation and Israel and from there to the rest of the world. He understood that Israel was the force unifying all the disparate elements of the Creation.

Because Israel is the power source of the Creation, the entire Creation is connected and gravitates back to the source. The Chidushei HaRim sees a hint to this concept in the above Midrash. The word for burning in the Midrash – דוֹלֶקֶת – also means pursue as in – דָלַקְתָּ אַחֲרַי – you pursued me. The Midrash is hinting at this idea that the Zohar states clearly.

Although Avraham Avinu understood that everything is connected spiritually, this was not at all obvious when looking at the physical world around him. Avraham wanted to understand how the physical Creation in which nothing seems connected is really all connected and is ultimately unified. How does God relate to the physical world?

In order to understand, it was imperative that he disregard any preconceptions he may have had. All his current knowledge and understanding would have to be risked in order to become open to new understanding. This disregard of the old and familiar is symbolized by God’s command that he leave all with which he is familiar behind in order to travel to a new land. Only by doing this would he merit receiving new understanding.

This concept applies to all of us today as well. The Sfas Emes sees it in the relationship between Shabbos and the days of the week. When we keep Shabbos, we throw off and disregard our weekday existence and accept the yoke of heaven. This symbolizes a readiness to not be bound by preconceptions and a willingness to accept and receive from God. The result is a revelation of God to us as the pasuk states, וּרְאוּ ... כִּי שֵׁם ה' נִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ .../They will see … that you are called by the name of God …”

1 comment:

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