• Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Avram requested a sign from G‑d that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. G‑d responded in the famous “Covenant Between the Parts.” Avram and the Divine Presence passed between an assortment of halved animals, and G‑d told Avram that his descendants would be exiled and in bondage for four hundred years. At the conclusion of this period, Avram’s descendants would leave with great wealth, G‑d would punish the nations which enslaved them, and Avram’s children would inherit the lands of Canaan. Following this pact, Sarai — seeing that she and Avram were still childless — suggested that Avram father a child with her Egyptian maid, Hagar. Hagar conceived and began to mistreat her mistress Sarai, who responded with a heavy hand, prompting Hagar to flee. Hagar encountered an angel who encouraged her to return to Sarai, promising her that the child she will bear will become a great nation. She obeyed, and gave birth to Ishmael. At the very end of this section, G‑d added the letter hey to Avram’s name, making it “Avraham.”

    This Aliya features classic struggles. Sara struggles with her shortcoming when her handmaid, Hagar, gives birth before her, and drives Hagar to flee (and return at the behest of G-d). Avraham struggles with is feelings of inadequacy when he finds out that he’s not perfect in G-d’s eyes because he isn’t circumcised (he fixes that right away). It’s very telling that Avraham gets his name “improved” before Sara does, probably as a subtle lesson to Sara for not dealing with her issues appropriately.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Avram rebuffed the king of Sodom’s wish to award him with all the war’s spoils. When G‑d reassured Avram that he would be greatly rewarded for his righteousness, Avram broaches his childlessness. “What is the point of all the reward and wealth,” Avram cried, “if I have no heir to inherit it?!” G‑d assured Avram that he will indeed have a child, and promised that Avram’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the heaven.

    Why did Avraham refuse to accept anything from the king of Sodom, but he became very wealthy from that which he accepted from Paroh? Commentaries say that Avraham was setting the stage for the fulfillment of G-d’s promise to the descendants of Avraham, that they would leave the country of their exile and oppression with great wealth. Hence, there was a purpose to accept the gifts from Paroh, and no reason to accept those of the king of Sodom (and therefore be obligated to him on any level).

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The southern region of Canaan was embroiled in a major war involving many kings. When the dust settled, the victorious kings took captive all the inhabitants of the Sodom region — Lot included. When Avram was informed of Lot’s plight he rushed to the rescue along with a handful of men, engaged the victorious kings in battle, soundly defeated them, released all the captives and returned all the spoils.

    Some ironic mentions: 1) One of the four winning kings was Shem, one of Noach’s sons; 2) Another one of the four winning kings was Nimrod, who had thrown Avram into the fire to prove that he was a man of G-d; 3) Avram was informed of Lot’s plight by Og, who Medrash says was the only person outside the ark to have survived the flood by hanging on to it (symbolic of his regret for any wrong-doings?) ; 4) The main battle took place in Ein Mishpat, so named because it was where Moshe and Aaron would be judged for hitting the rock when the Jews needed water. Is there a connection between Og’s actions? What was it about Ein Mishpak that so many things happened around it? These are not coincidences, but many of the mysteries of these people, places and events are still unknown to us. Still, we do know that there’s a reason for all of it, which should help us perform to those laws that we don’t (yet) understand.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Lot, who had accompanied Avram and Sarai, was independently wealthy. When Lot’s shepherds quarreled with Avram’s shepherds, the two parted ways, with Lot settling in the province of Sodom, which was renowned for its evil inhabitants. After Lot departed, G‑d spoke to Avram again, reiterating His promise to bequeath the land to his descendants, and promising to make his descendants numerous as the soil of the earth.

    One commentary says that although Avraham knew that his spirituality was compromised by Lot’s presence, he nonetheless did not chase Lot away until he had no choice. Avraham felt a moral obligation to take care of Lot (including saving him after they parted) even though he knew that G-d was “keeping His distance” with Lot around. Is hospitality more important than receiving the Divine Presence? It seems that way.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Because of her beauty, Sarai was taken captive and brought to Pharaoh. G‑d struck the members of Pharaoh’s palace with a plague, causing Pharaoh to hastily release Sarai. Pharaoh loaded Avram and Sarai with gifts and riches, and had them escorted out of his land. Avram returned triumphantly to Canaan.

    In the same Aliya, Avram is tested by both poverty and wealth. When he was poor, he hid his only asset (Sarai) so that others aren’t tempted, which is perhaps why he was worthy to gain other assets. It’s a short yet powerful lesson to those seeking to gain assets and wealth.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: Avram and Sarai travel to Canaan. Due to a famine in the land they temporarily relocate to Egypt, where Pharaoh unsuccessfully attempts to add Sarai to his harem. They return to Canaan with great wealth and Avram parts with his nephew Lot. Avram defeats the armies of the four kings who had taken his nephew Lot hostage. G‑d seals a pact with Avram, bequeathing the lands of Canaan to his descendants. Childless Avram marries Hagar and she gives birth to Ishmael. G‑d changes Avram’s name to Avraham, and Sarai becomes Sarah. Avraham is circumcised at the age of 99.

    Aliya Summary: G‑d commanded Avram to leave his father’s house and homeland, and travel to the land that He will show him. As reward for doing so, G‑d promised to make Avram the patriarch of a great nation. Avram obeyed, taking along his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot. Once Avram arrived in Canaan, G‑d informed him that He will eventually give that land to his descendants. Avram traverses the length of the land until a famine forces him to travel to Egypt. Fearing that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take Sarai, Avram asked her to allege that he was her brother.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d sealed a covenant with Avraham and his descendants; the sign of the covenant is the circumcision of all males when they are eight days old. Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, and G‑d promises a delighted Abraham that he will father another son, this time from Sarah. At the age of 99, Abraham circumcised himself, his son Ishmael, and all the members of his household.

    When Avraham finds out that he will have a son, Yitzchak, he laughs. Sarah laughed too, but her laughter was one of disbelief, while Avraham’s was one of happiness. It’s interesting to note that Yitzchak was named so because of Avraham’s reaction, not Sarah’s.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Avram requested a sign from G‑d that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. G‑d responded in the famous “Covenant Between the Parts.” Avram and the Divine Presence passed between an assortment of halved animals, and G‑d told Avram that his descendants would be exiled and in bondage for four hundred years. At the conclusion of this period, Avram’s descendants would leave with great wealth, G‑d would punish the nations which enslaved them, and Avram’s children would inherit the lands of Canaan. Following this pact, Sarai — seeing that she and Avram were still childless — suggested that Avram father a child with her Egyptian maid, Hagar. Hagar conceived and began to mistreat her mistress Sarai, who responded with a heavy hand, prompting Hagar to flee. Hagar encountered an angel who encouraged her to return to Sarai, promising her that the child she will bear will become a great nation. She obeyed, and gave birth to Ishmael. At the very end of this section, G‑d added the letter hey to Avram’s name, making it “Avraham.”

    This Aliya features classic struggles. Sara struggles with her shortcoming when her handmaid, Hagar, gives birth before her, and drives Hagar to flee (and return at the behest of G-d). Avraham struggles with is feelings of inadequacy when he finds out that he’s not perfect in G-d’s eyes because he isn’t circumcised (he fixes that right away). It’s very telling that Avraham gets his name “improved” before Sara does, probably as a subtle lesson to Sara for not dealing with her issues appropriately.

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Avram rebuffed the king of Sodom’s wish to award him with all the war’s spoils. When G‑d reassured Avram that he would be greatly rewarded for his righteousness, Avram broaches his childlessness. “What is the point of all the reward and wealth,” Avram cried, “if I have no heir to inherit it?!” G‑d assured Avram that he will indeed have a child, and promised that Avram’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the heaven.

    Why did Avraham refuse to accept anything from the king of Sodom, but he became very wealthy from that which he accepted from Paroh? Commentaries say that Avraham was setting the stage for the fulfillment of G-d’s promise to the descendants of Avraham, that they would leave the country of their exile and oppression with great wealth. Hence, there was a purpose to accept the gifts from Paroh, and no reason to accept those of the king of Sodom (and therefore be obligated to him on any level).

  • Daily Aliya for Lech Lecha, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The southern region of Canaan was embroiled in a major war involving many kings. When the dust settled, the victorious kings took captive all the inhabitants of the Sodom region — Lot included. When Avram was informed of Lot’s plight he rushed to the rescue along with a handful of men, engaged the victorious kings in battle, soundly defeated them, released all the captives and returned all the spoils.

    Some ironic mentions: 1) One of the four winning kings was Shem, one of Noach’s sons; 2) Another one of the four winning kings was Nimrod, who had thrown Avram into the fire to prove that he was a man of G-d; 3) Avram was informed of Lot’s plight by Og, who Medrash says was the only person outside the ark to have survived the flood by hanging on to it (symbolic of his regret for any wrong-doings?) ; 4) The main battle took place in Ein Mishpat, so named because it was where Moshe and Aaron would be judged for hitting the rock when the Jews needed water. Is there a connection between Og’s actions? What was it about Ein Mishpak that so many things happened around it? These are not coincidences, but many of the mysteries of these people, places and events are still unknown to us. Still, we do know that there’s a reason for all of it, which should help us perform to those laws that we don’t (yet) understand.

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