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Learning From Abraham to Fight For Others: Lekh Lekha

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Parashat Lekh Lekha begins Abraham and Sarah’s saga. They are imperfect, but we have much to learn from them. Abraham in particular teaches us to strive.

Abraham fights both for family and strangers. Hearing that his nephew Lot has been captured, he fights four kings to save him. In next week’s Torah portion, Abraham attempts to persuade God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. True, Lot lives there. However, Abraham doesn’t only try to save Lot and his family. He advocates for all the inhabitants. This he does, although we are told that all of the other residents are evildoers.

Fighting for family and strangers alike, Abraham’s deeds reflect what we just learned in the first chapter of the Torah. Every person is created in God’s Image – not just Jews, and not just the wealthy. The Torah specifically includes both men and women. This teaching must guide human rights defenders. We must defend all, whether they are family, members of our ethnic group, unrelated to us, or even our enemies. Rabbi Isaac Newman z”l, one of RHR’s early members and twice chairperson, frequently quoted the addition to “Who is mighty? One who controls his/her urges.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1) in Pirkei Avot d’Rabbi Natan 23, “Who is the mightiest of the mighty…Some say the one who turns an enemy into a friend.”

Again, Abraham was far from perfect. Twice he hands Sarah over to other men to save himself. He allows Sarah to abuse Hagar, and gives in to her demand to expel Hagar and Ishmael (The midrash nevertheless teaches that Abraham would visit Ishmael, and continued to........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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