Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Lech Lecha

In this week’s D’var Torah for Lech Lecha, the Chief Rabbi asks why Avraham Avinu, of all people needed reassurance from Hashem.

Why was Avram afraid? In Parashat Lech Lecha we are told that Hashem appeared to Avram in a vision at night, in order to reassure him.

Hashem said, “Al Tirah Avram Anochi Magen Lach – Do not fear Avram, I will shield and protect you.” At this moment Avram was riding high. He had just been victorious in the war between the four kings and the five kings and he had managed to rescue Lot from captivity. Everything in his life was going well. Yet ‘davka’ at this point, Hashem needed to reassure him?

Rashi explains that Avram feared that he had used up all of his credit. That, as a reward for all of his righteousness and good deeds, Hashem had blessed him in battle. But if he were to be attacked again, – he could be in trouble.

There is a Midrash with a different ‘Peirush’. It tells us that after the war, there were many people ‘licking their wounds’. Avram feared a reprisal because after every conflict there are pieces to be picked up.

But I would like to suggest a different explanation. In the world of football, often you find a match in which the two sides are attacking one another desperate to score the first goal – after a long time, one team eventually breaks the deadlock and then within a few minutes the opposing team also score and it is one-all.

The same thing often happens in life. When we are victorious, when we are doing well and when we are successful, suddenly we become vulnerable. This is often because we have a false sense of confidence.

That was what Avram feared. He was doing so well, that he felt he could be lulled into that sense of confidence. Perhaps he might not daven as hard as he used to, or perhaps he would not be as conscious of what was going on around him. Therefore Hashem reassured him, ‘Don’t worry, even though you might feel vulnerable, I will protect you.’

From here I believe there are some very strong messages that emerge for us. Even when things are going well in our lives, let us not presume, that it is how it will stay.  We must always be vigilant. Let us guarantee that when it comes to prayer, we should daven both in times when there is danger and also in times of blessing.

We constantly need Hashem to protect us. Three times a day we recall in our prayers the promise of Hashem to Avram when He said “Anochi Magen Lach – I will shield you” when we say the words ‘Baruch Ata Hashem – Blessed are you Hashem’, ‘Magen Avraham – The shield of Avraham.’

And with this sentiment, our prayer is that the Almighty should bless and protect us both in times of trouble and also when things are going well.

Shabbat Shalom


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