My Torah potion is called Lech L’cha and is in the Book of Genesis. It is the story about how Avram leaves his home because God offers him many great things. God tells Avram that he will make of him a great nation and will bless those who bless him and will curse those who curse him. Avram struggles with the decision, but his faith in God made him choose to leave. He set off to Canaan with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot. There was a famine in Canaan so they had to continue on to Egypt. Before entering their actual destination in Egypt, Avram told Sarai to say that she is his sister, rather than his wife, otherwise the Pharaoh would kill Avram and take Sarai for himself since she was so beautiful. When they arrived in the city the Pharaoh started to take a liking to Sarai, as Avram had predicted. Pharaoh struck a deal with Avram, exchanging many animals and wealth for Sarai- but don’t forget that Sarai was living a lie at the moment. God found out about Sarai and struck the Pharaoh with the plague, which made the Pharaoh suspect that Sarai was actually Avram’s wife. The Pharaoh banished them all and they left with their herds and wealth. Both Lot and Avram had so many herds that they could not share the same land. Avram realized this and told Lot that he could choose where he wanted to go. He chose to settle in the land of Jordan. Avram headed the opposite way, to Hebron. Once in Hebron, Avram got a chance to build an altar to God as way of marking gratitude and blessing.
In reading through my portion, the part that I found most interesting was that Avram, the father of the Jewish people was so motivated by his own self-interest. This selfishness is shown when he gives up Sarai in order to accomplish what he wanted. He wanted to get food from Egypt while Canaan was in famine and keep his herds and wealth. Giving up family for personal benefit is probably the most selfish thing that someone could do. Another example of his selfishness was when he left his home because of what God promised him. Although it seems like he acted out of respect for God, in a subtle way, I believe, he was also doing it for his own benefit.
This leads me to my first question; why would God have chosen Avram, a flawed character, as the founder of the Jewish people? One of the most basic instincts is to protect your family, yet Avram is willing to barter Sari without a second thought. If Avram really wanted to stay alive and keep his wife, he should not have gone to Egypt, he should have found his food somewhere else. However, when you think about it, we are all flawed in some ways. Whether it’s acting in anger, lying, or being selfish, really, no one is perfect. Maybe God wanted to use him as a role model to show us that even very important, successful people are also flawed.
My second question about this portion is: did Pharaoh know the whole time that Sarai was Avram’s wife, or did he learn of this for the first time when the plague struck? In thinking about this question I decided that the answer is in a way, both. I think that he definitely had some suspicions, considering that Sarai came into town with another man, however, he was not totally sure until the plague struck. I doubt he totally knew because if he did, he would not have taken Sarai for fear that there would be a punishment. These aforementioned reasons make me believe the answer was both.
My final question is why did Avram trust God so much as to leave everything that he had? I found it interesting because although God promised that the outcome would be positive, there was no concrete proof that what God had promised would actually happen. Even with proof, it would be hard to leave everything that he had built up in his seventy-five-years of life, now that he was an older man. It really shows that Avram completely trusted God.
I believe that the moral of the story told in my portion is knowing who to trust and who not to trust. Avram decided that he would give up everything because of what God told him. It shows that Avram really trusted God and believed that God would not lie to him. Then there was also the opposite scenario. Avram knew not to trust the Pharaoh, which led his decision to lie about Sarai. In my life, I have undoubtedly learned this lesson. When I was going into third grade my parents decided that I should start going to private school. They told me that it was going to be great for my future and yet I really did not believe them for a while. Finally, I decided that I would put my trust in my parents, who have led me and guided me in great ways throughout my life. That next year, in third grade, I went to that new school and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Currently, I am incredibly happy with where I am at Fenn and I have many great friends. Both examples clearly show that if you place your trust in the correct people, then the outcome can be very positive. Like Avram, we all have to make tough life decisions, and knowing in whom to put your trust is a critical component to a fulfilling life.