Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Lech Lecha

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"As for me, behold, my Covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations." [17:4]

The Medrash (in Parshas Vayeira) tells us that Avraham said that after he had circumcised himself, many converts came to join the covenant. The Bais HaLevi, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt"l of Brisk, points out that this seems illogical. We would expect just the contrary -- people should have stayed away because of the pain of circumcision!

In order to understand this Medrash, says the Bais HaLevi, we need to better understand the verse above.

Every person on the face of the earth has free will, and can choose good over evil. Everyone has the opportunity to be a good person, and the righteous of all nations are guaranteed a place in the World to Come. And yet, this recurs in each generation -- as we know, the fact that a person is righteous does not guarantee that his or her children will choose the same path.

The Covenant of Avraham is different. A person who is born into the Jewish people, even a sincere convert who later turns away from Judaism, remains a Jew. Even if he sins, he remains one of the Children of Israel. This stems from the Covenant of circumcision. Even though not all of Avraham's children, and not all of Yitzchak's children, followed that path and joined the same covenant (thus leaving Avraham the founder of nations, plural), the Jewish people was established with the Covenant. Today, it is no longer optional; one cannot refuse the birthright of this nation. And the idea that one could join a people, and steer his or her children into that same people for generations to come -- that was very attractive. That remains attractive today.

For all of the politics today about conversion, and the arguments about patrilineal descent, we must remember -- these arguments which threaten to divide us only bear upon a very small number of people (though it is growing). We all agree (or should) that those born into the Jewish people cannot be disqualified, dispatched, "delegitimized," as Jews. Were someone to attempt to do otherwise, it would cast aspersions upon our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and the Covenant which G-d made with them. We are fortunate to walk with eternity -- let us recognize it, every day, and learn to value every fellow member of the Covenant.



View Complete List

An Enlightening Insight Into The Meaning of Gadol and Katan
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Permanent Assets
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5766


The Dawn of a New Adventure
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Torah Must Begin With The Lesson of Yashrus ('Straightness')
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Genesis and Life
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Adam Regrets His Gift to Dovid
- 5768

Pursuit Of Peace
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5764

The Secrets of Creation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Beginning With No End
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Not Competition, Composition!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Property and Pursuit of Happiness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5771

> Rejoicing With the Torah
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

The Condition of Creation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

In The Beginning
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Bullish Outlook
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information