And HASHEM said to Avram: ‘Go for yourself from your country, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make your name great; and you will be a blessing. And I will bless those that bless you, and those that curse you will I curse; and through you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ So Avram went, as HASHEM had spoken to him; and Lot went with him; and Avram was seventy and five years old when he departed from of Haran. And Avram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had made in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Avram passed through the land until the place of Shechem, until Elon Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. And HASHEM appeared to Avram, and said: ‘Unto your seed will I give this land’; and he built there an altar to HASHEM who appeared to him. (Breishis 12:1-7)
Two things are described in the beginning of Avram’s journey. One of them seems superfluous. The verse tells us that Lot joined in and went along with Avram. The very next verse informs us that Avram took “Lot his brother’s son”. Why did the Torah have to tell us then and there that Lot was his brother’s son? That was spelled out clearly just before. Also, why does the narrative tell us that the Canaanites were then in the land before HASHEM promised him and his children the land?
If the Torah was just listing for us who went on the trip why then it would be unnecessary to repeat Lot’s name on the captain’s manifest. However, the Torah is teaching us a few important points. Lot tagged along for his own motive and Avram had his own reason for including his nephew. Lot, it seems knew of the promise given by HASHEM of all the future blessings of wealth, fame, and family. Avram had no children from his barren wife Sarai. Perhaps he saw himself as the heir apparent to all those goodies. Therefore he came along.
Avram knew better. HASHEM’s promise is real. He took Lot for a different reason because he was his brother’s son. Who was his brother? What happened with him? The verse at the end of Parshas Noach simply tells that “Haran died on the face of his father!” What happened to him? When Avraham was captured by Nimrod for sedition, for the heresy of believing in a Single G-d, he was cast into a furnace but Avraham understood that the same G-d that could make fire burn could make fire not burn. There is none other than Him! That’s what happened. Avraham was miraculously spared.
Haran was offered the same ultimatum of acquiescing to idolatry or going into a fire. He opted like Avraham but for a different reason. Since it worked for his brother it would work for him. It didn’t work. He was consumed by and died in that fire.
The Sefas Emes explains that even though Haran’s belief was not enough to save him he was still included in the great Kiddush HSAHEM of dying for the highest ideal. He evokes the sagely principal that “HASHEM never fails to pay the reward to any creature”. Since Lot was his progeny, Avram understood well that he is the bearer of all that future greatness. It is no mistake then that from Lot and his daughters would come out Moab and Ammon and the two doves, Rus and Naomis who would weave their way into the Davidic Dynasty more than seven centuries later.
Avram arrived in the land where the imposing Canaanites that scared the spies and intimidated an entire nation impressed with miracles and he was visited by HASHEM who informed him of the fact that his children would inherit the land. Avram had no children then, the Canaanites were dominating the land but still he made a Kiddush because he saw with his mind’s eye what HASHEM had promised him. That way of looking through to the future -beyond the tangible present, of seeing what will be in what is, is the same vision that informed him of Lot’s and lots of opportunities. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.