Lech Lecha 3
Perfecting the World
Parshas Lech Lecha
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had been involved in a war. After the war, and the rescue of his nephew Lot, and
after Avraham had seen miraculous acts performed by G-d, Avraham said to Him,
“You have given me no offspring.” Avraham was not complaining. In fact the
Midrash relates (Bereshis Rabbah) that he was worried that perhaps when G-d
performed these miracles for him, his merit had run out. Furthermore, he saw in
the stars that he was to have no children. The Torah tells us: G-d took him
outside and said “gaze now towards the heavens and count the stars if you are
able. And He said to him, so shall your offspring be” (Gen. 15:3-5).
told Avraham to go outside for two reasons. The first reason is logical, to show
Avraham the vast number of stars and how they are uncountable. The second reason
is much deeper. The Talmud explains (Tractate Shabbos 156a) that G-d was telling
Avraham to see outside of nature. Yes, according to nature Avraham was not able
to father children, and the astronomers were reading the stars correctly. G-d
was telling Avraham to see outside of his perceptions, in that not only was
Avraham outside nature, but it had to be that way, for he was to father a nation
that would be outside nature.
example, a nation usually starts when a group of people live in a regional area,
decide to form a government, write a set of laws, form an army, and become a
nation. Rarely is the constitution written before the area is even settled. Yet
that is what the Jewish people did, by receiving the Torah and then going to
Israel. It is outside the natural order of the world for a group of people to
identify both as a religion and a nation while away from that land for close to
two thousand years, but that is what the Jewish people have done.
great Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes in his classic work Da’as
Tevunos, that G-d runs the world with two traits. The first trait is the way of
judgment, in that the world runs through reward and punishment. The second
trait is through His goodness, as due to His perfection He desires to return the
world to a state of perfection, to rectify the world. The first trait is how G-d
runs the world through nature; the second trait is above nature. It must be our
will to perform the will of G-d. We elevate ourselves through performance of His
will, the Torah, and cling to His trait of running the world above nature,
leading to the perfection of the world.