Parshat Lech Lecha By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
לשכנו תדרשו Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And He [Avraham] Settled in Elonei Mamreh in Hebron and Built an Altar There To Hashem
Our Sages teach that that the actions of our Fathers act as significant “signs” to their offspring. Just as Avraham was in Egypt/Exile from the Land in this parsha so too his offspring were in Egypt/Exile from the Land. Just as Hashem plagued Pharaoh in Avraham’s time so too He plagued Pharaoh when his descendants were in Egypt. Just as Avraham left with great fortune from Egypt so too his descendants left Egpyt with great fortune.
It is also clear that this “great fortune” was instrumental in the separation between Avraham and Lot, for the verse says that as a result of the great livestock acquired by Avraham and Lot there was a quarrel between them. Lot, who was blinded by material wealth chose to live in Sodom, then a wealthy province “like the land of Egypt,” and did not merit to join Avraham in the first Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, Hebron. As the verse says, it was only “after Lot separated from Avraham” that Avraham merited to the first blessing and promise from Hashem that He will give the Holy Land to him and his descendants and the second blessing to him that he will merit to a great nation. Only then does Avraham merit to settle in Hebron, the city that unites, Hebron=hibur (unity), Israel with the Holy Land.
Here too there seems to be a parallel between the actions of Avraham and his descendants during the period of Ezra and Nehemia when it was primarily the poorer families of Israel, those that were not “blinded” by wealth, that returned to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian exile, while much of the wealthier families chose to stay in Babylon (see Hagai chapter 1, Nehemia 5, 1-4). These “poorer families” achieved great “spiritual wealth”, as we can see that not only is each family recorded in the Holy Scriptures in the book of Ezra but even their donkeys, camels, horses, etc. are also recorded there (see Ezra 2, 65-7). These families also took an important role in the building of the second Beit Hamikdash after their ascent to the Land.
Hebron is considered by our Sages to be the “rubble of the Land of Israel” (Sota 34b) on a material level. The fact that Avraham settles here, the first Jewish settlement in the Land, after Lot’s materialistic move to Sodom seems to show that an important part in settling this Land is preferably to put the materialistic motives aside and to focus on the spiritual grandeur of settling the Land of the Holy Presence. Nevertheless, once this is done much blessing, both material and spiritual are granted to those who settle in this Land of Blessing, the Land of “Milk and Honey,” as can be seen in many verses in Tanach and in the teachings of our Sages (see Ketubot 111 and more).
Real Stories from the Holy Land
(Continued from last week) Years passed. On one eve of Yom Kippur, Meir walked between lines of trees in Rome, longing intensely to observe Yom Kippur, but he knew he couldn’t, for he was in captivity! Suddenly, Meir saw someone who looked like a monk passing by him singing songs of the Days of Awe. Perplexed, Meir thought this man either mad or a Jew that had converted to Christianity. Nevertheless, the man turned to Meir saying, “I am a Jew, Meir ben Eliyahu, from Hebron!” After awakening from what seemed to be a dream, the two designated a time to meet after Yom Kippur. Then, just after Sukkot the two fled together on the same night. After a long tumultuous journey Meir arrived home in Hebron, and the whole city was amazed at the return of the captive.
Sefer Hebron p. 308