Friday, November 23, 2007

Parshas Vayeira - "NO FEAR"

This week's Parsha happens to be my Bar Mitzvah Parsha.I thought about saving some time and just sending out my Bar Mitzvah Speech but, I didn't write any of it and I figured that doing that would be a tad dishonest.

Here is just a few words in case you need something at the table....

While reading this week's Parsha the following instance stuck out in my mind:

Imagine the scene; Avraham Avinu arrives in Gerar with a fabulous entourage. He is held in such high international regard that he even had the opportunity to meet with the provinces King, Avimelech. After a very brief discourse with the King, Avraham tells Avimelech that Sarah is his sister.

So deeply infatuated with Sarah's beautiful looks, Avimelech sends his men to bring Sarah to him, in hopes of possibly initiating a relationship. After Sarah's arrival and settlement in his ornate palace, the King has a dream from Hashem telling him to stop in his tracks. Sarah had been falsely identified as Avraham's sister and is in fact was his lawfully wedded wife.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ, אֶל-אַבְרָהָם: מָה רָאִיתָ, כִּי עָשִׂיתָ אֶת-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה.

וַיֹּאמֶר, אַבְרָהָם, כִּי אָמַרְתִּי רַק אֵין-יִרְאַת אֱלֹהִים, בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה ; וַהֲרָגוּנִי, עַל-דְּבַר אִשְׁתִּי

Befuddled and bewildered as to why Avraham lied, the king inquires and asks, Breishis 20:10, "What did you see that you did such a thing? Avraham responds, Breishis 20:11"Because there is no fear of G-d in this place and they will slay me because of my wife."

When Avraham was visiting Pharaoh in Egypt, the hearth of immorality and witchcraft, (Tractate Kiddushin 49b) it was justifiably understandable that he would lie and tell Pharaoh that Sarah was his wife in fear of being killed. In Gerar however, one of the most civilized societies, Avraham should have had no such worry?!

The Malbim answers with an eye opening answer. Avraham Avinu was telling AviMelech that, "Gerar is an incredibly upstanding and noble society. Culturally and philosophically they are seemingly unmatched but all of this means nothing. As long as man is dictating the law, it can never be set in stone. The only law that will eternally have force is Divine Law. Therefore, I must lie to you when it comes to matters such as these."

Within the context of this Malbim, Rabbi Frand tells the following story: While sitting with a group of leading Rabbi's from his generation, Rav Elchonon Wasserman delivered over this Malbim. He told it over in regards to what can happen in Germany in the decade immediately prior to the rise of Nazi power.

The other Rabbis scoffed at him and said "Not here. Never Again! Germany is a country of laws, moral standing, and is technologically advanced"

Yes, Germany was a country of laws. In 1933, one of the first laws that the Nazis passed was a law against cruelty to animals. Gypsies should not be allowed to perform with dancing bears. Why? Because it was not right for the German people to stand idly by when innocent animals were taken advantage of and perhaps not cared for properly. Those were the "laws" of Germany. A mere five years later there were different "laws" in Germany.

The phenomenon of a judicial system that does not abide by the divine law is that the wrongdoings of yesterday become the acceptable of today. An act that used to be called murder is now a medical procedure known as euthanasia.

Avraham tells Avimelech that, yes, his people are cultured but if lust or some other motive gets in their way nothing will stop them from satiating their desires.


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