Blog on Parashat Lech Lecha (based on Abravanel’s World of Torah)
Below are two ideas on this week’s parasha. The first one comes to answer a famous question.
Given that Avraham was spared Nimrod/Ur Kasdim's wrath and death by fire, why doesn’t the Torah mention that miracle explicitly? Instead, only an innuendo suffices, as the major commentators have noted.
To answer, let us provide a premise. Avram had been a well-known philosopher in his city. Moreover, his ONE CREATOR theory had gained popularity and traction (or better, notoriety in that primitive region’s pagan milieu). More specifically, he had acquired a good name as a top-notch thinker, and an honest one. Now, since that Ur Kasdim ‘miracle’ can be explained as a political expedient on behalf of Nimrod and his government (kings often expel trouble makers – all the more so when they're popular and honest), the Torah omits retelling the miracle.
By extrapolating, we can make this observation. The Torah only retells miracles when they cannot be mistaken for natural occurrences. Compare the story about Hananya, Meshael, and Azaryia’s surviving a fire as written in the Book of Daniel.
Here is a second idea.
Early in the parasha, verses inform us about Hashem told Avraham to leave home etc. We also learn that others had joined him (Sarah, Lot etc.). When Avraham arrived in Canaan, Hashem communicated to him and said that He would give the Holy Land to the patriarch. It was to be for him and his descendants in perpetuity.
The Torah records Avraham’s reaction. Namely, he built an altar “to Hashem that appeared to him.” One may legitimately ask a question on that phrase: Why doesn't the verse say that Avraham built an altar (and presumably offered sacrifices) to Hashem Who: 1) promised him Eretz Yisrael? or 2) promised him children and merit descendants? Weren’t those two tidings most gratifying and significant for a man who was bereft of homeland and offspring?
In fact, an important clue is tucked into that phrase, one that sheds light on Avraham’s personality. Again, he built an altar to Hashem Who “appeared to him.” It means, likely, that what most thrilled, excited, and moved the first patriarch was one thing: Closeness to Hashem. That first Canaan vision was intense, much more intense than the first Lech Lecha vision he experienced in Ur Kasdim. Newly planted on Holy Land soil, Avraham built this altar because Hashem allowed him into His inner sanctum (prophecy). That closeness and intimacy meant more than anything else to Avraham – even more than divine promises to have children or inherit the Land of Canaan.