Ritual Wisdom 10-19-18
This week’s Torah reading, Lech Lecha, begins, “The L-rd said to Abraham go to you from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s house unto the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great and you will be a blessing.”
Abraham was seventy five and his wife, Sarah, was sixty five when G-d commanded them to leave their native land and go to an unknown land (“the land which I will show you”). Abraham took his wife and together they left for the land of Canaan, which would later become the Land of Israel.
This was the first of the ten tests which G-d put Abraham through in order to test his faith. Some of the other tests are also found in this Parsha. They are:
* When they arrive in Canaan, there is a famine in the new land and Abraham and Sarah are forced to move again, this time to Egypt.
* In Egypt, when the Egyptians saw Sarah’s beauty, Sarah was taken, against her will, to King Pharaoh. But she was returned to Abraham when G-d sent plagues upon Pharaoh and his household.
* Returning to the land of Canaan Abraham’s nephew, Lot, is captured and Abraham has to wage war, against four mighty kings, and he saves Lot.
* G-d promised that a great nation would come from Abraham. Yet, he and Sarah are still childless.
* At the age of 99, Abraham is commanded to circumcise. This too was a great test and Abraham didn’t hesitate to perform the mitzvah.
Our sages explain the words Lech Lecha, “go to you,” to mean “to your benefit.” G-d said to Abraham that, although these tests seem a hardship, yet, in the end it will be to your benefit.
“Nisayon” in Hebrew is “test.” It comes from the same word as “Nes” “miracle” and “uplifting.” When one experiences a miracle one realizes it as an obvious sign that G-d cares and looks out for the person and it is indeed an “uplifting” experience.
Our sages say that the same also applies with the tests which we experience throughout our life. Some tests may be more difficult than others, but they are all for the same purpose. Through these tests a person is uplifted, attaining a higher spiritual level and achieves greater strength.
The very fact that G-d chooses to test an individual, should in itself be an encouragement. It shows that the person has special qualities and the ability to pass the test, for G-d doesn’t give tests which one cannot handle. With the test, G-d gives us the capability needed to pass that test.