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Lech Lecha: Lessons from Avram About the Election

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Does the election matter anymore? I am sitting down to write a few hours after I cast my vote. I am sure that by the time Shabbat has begun, many of you have already cast yours. With that premise in mind, is there anything left to say the Shabbat before a presidential election? I believe that there are, actually, a few things left to say. After all, I am never here to persuade anyone how to vote from the pulpit, so there is relatively little I can say to convince you of anything before you cast your vote. But as we sit in this sort of twilight between casting ballots and waiting for the results, there are still some matters to think about. Furthermore, we will need to move on after the election with whatever results we receive. What will our hashkafa, our perspective, be at that point?

Avraham Avinu (hereon ‘Avram’), introduced in last week’s parasha and featured as the protagonist and patriarch of this week’s parasha, encounters kings and leaders at a few different points in Lech Lecha. But there is one episode that is often overlooked where Avram maintains a high profile with some of the most powerful monarchs in the Near East. I refer to the story in Bereishit Chapter 14. A rebellion bursts as a group of five kings rebel against the predominant group of four kings. One of the five is the king of Sedom, where Avram’s nephew, Lot, resides. Upon losing this battle, many inhabitants of Sedom are taken captive, including Lot. It could have been that Lot would disappear into oblivion as an average captive. Lot has little merit of his own to escape this situation. But his uncle, Avram, saves the day by driving away Sedom’s opposition, thereby freeing Lot. Avram is then recognized by the king of Sedom and the priest named Malki-tzedek.

There are two takeaways from this story on which I wish to focus.

One striking lesson is that family matters above all. We must first note that Avram was alone. While there are nine different kings involved in this battle, all of whom have people over whom they rule, Avram belongs to nobody and rules over nobody. It is up to him alone to organize the effort to save Lot. If we accept Rashi’s explanation that the חניכיו of Avram who waged battle was Eliezer alone, this was the effort of just two people. Even with his victory, Avram does not remain on cloud nine. On the contrary, he immediately finds himself worried. As Ramban points out at the beginning of Chapter 15, Avram has great reason to worry for retaliation from the kings whom he defeated. They were not just defeated; they were humiliated by this “nobody!” While he prevailed once, what is the guarantee? He has no allies; he is relatively........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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