Outline #7 Parshas Lech Lecha 5757 - '96
The World in Flux
In last week's
story of Noach, note that Service is only mentioned after the flood. Finding
the world desolate, Noach offered a sacrifice to Hashem in gratitude. According
to the Zohar, he cried aloud, in private communication with Hashem. Avraham,
however, is a different story. Early in the Torah's account, we hear of altars
and "calling the name of Hashem" -- that is, prayer.
tradition, Avraham had willingly attempted martyrdom at a young age -- due
to his belief in the Deity that he had discovered entirely by himself! He
was saved by miracle alone. (His brother Haran actually died Al Kiddush Hashem
-- sanctifying Hashem's Name. See Kli Chemdah, who finds Haran's character
most exemplary, in contrast to other commentaries).
Our parsha mirrors
two themes -- Avraham's faith and service, and the "hashgacha pratis" --
the Divine supervision. The two seem to go hand in hand, until Avraham must
eventually show that his service is not for self-serving reasons (the Binding
of Yitzchak, see next week's parsha).
Avodas Hatefillah -- Service of Prayer
Some kind of
prayer always was associated with the sacrifices, as we have written on several
occasions. Eventually, with the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash (Temple),
prayer was instituted instead of the sacrifices altogether.
The Asarah Ma'amoros
writes that the daily recital of the Shir Shel Yom (the psalm of the day,
in commemoration of the psalm song by the Levites) should not be taken lightly.
In the tractate Rosh Hashanah, it is related that the witnesses necessary
to proclaim the new moon once were delayed on Rosh Hashanah, and did not
appear until after Mincha (the afternoon prayer). The Levites were in a quandary
as to which song to sing (without the witnesses it would not be Rosh Hashanah
until the next day). They erred. One opinion holds that they failed to recite
any song. The second holds that they recited the weekday song, but in fact
-- since the witnesses did show up -- they should have recited the song for
The Mishnah concludes
that -- due to this tragic error -- it was decreed that there be two days
of Rosh Hashanah, even in Jerusalem. To this day, Rosh Hashanah is unique
in that two days are kept even in Eretz Yisroel.
error" only occured once in history. The likelihood of it re-occurring was
very small; from time immemorial the witnesses had always appeared on the
first day, and before Minchah. Yet, because of this single recorded error,
two days of Rosh Hashanah were decreed. Further, the main day of the two
days of Rosh Hashanah was the second day. From the second day the calendar
would begin, and the holidays would be calculated. (Later, Rabbi Yochanan
Ben Zakkai reinstituted that the calendar be counted from the first day.)
It comes out that the entire calendar, all the holidays and their Biblical
laws, were adjusted and pushed off a day simply because the Levites had erred
in their song! "The service requires the song."
Intentions -- Prayers -- Services -- Faith
states that the main intentions and concentration in the prayers must take
place before seeing the words -- not the reverse, as many people think, that
upon seeing the words one first begins to contemplate their meaning!
Avraham is the
founder of the Avodah -- our services -- and has discovered the connection
between the secret of the words and the secret of the sacrifices.
the medrash that Hashem told Avraham to leave his trust in pre-destination.
As Hashem created the world, He controls the world, and is not bound by any
limitations. Avraham -- the father of prayer and service -- will be buoyed
aloft by faith alone. "The righteous one shall live by his faith."
beyond the mundane, and you will be lifted beyond the mudane." Avraham wanders
from Iraq, to Turkey, to Eretz Yisroel, to Egypt, back to Eretz Yisroel.
He is not in the vicinity when Sarah dies, and has to journey to attend her
funeral. (Where was he? the commentaries debate.) "Your children will be
slave in a foreign land." The world is constantly in a state of change and
flux. Only one element is always constant: "Serve Hashem with joy; rejoice
© Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Genesis, '97