Lech Lecha

Lech Lecha – Preserving the Holy Foundation

“Look what I found”, yelled Shira. Yaakov was not too quick to come running, as the ‘treasures’ have not been so valuable. “Come! I found a ring!”, she hollered, trying to get her husband to come over.
They had been rummaging for hours through the attic, in the hopes of finding something. Shira’s grandmother was old and frail, and she invited them over to find something special.
Before they had left, Shira had confided to him, “Bubby inherited some very expensive jewelry. The rumor in the family is she never wore it and it is sitting somewhere just collecting dust. I’m sure if we find it, she will let us keep something!”
Yaakov was intrigued, but as the hours wore on, his inner reserve was wearing thin. Trying to be a good sport, Yaakov came over to look at the latest ‘find’. It was a ring, and there definitely seemed to be some shine buried deep down under all the dirt. As he rubbed away at the dirt, it became clear that there was something to this ring.
The stark contrast between Noach and Avraham Avinu is extreme. Avraham seems to be this most amazing outreach professional, whereas Noach did not have such luck. Midrashim explain that Noach was certainly out there, definitely trying to bring awareness of the name of God, but he just didn’t succeed. Yet, Avraham Avinu seems to be the paradigm of all good in the world, spreading light and kindness everywhere he went.
Even the ground itself was steeped in immorality and sin in the times of the flood. Noach tried to tell people off, and in truth the people admired Noach and tried to listen. But, there was nothing there aside for their sins, so when that was removed, there was nothing left.
Avraham Avinu followed a bit of a different approach. The people needed to better their ways, but first Avraham brought them close and showed them the beauty of kindness and holiness. Then, when he told them of their sins, there was something that they were able to fall back on, and therefore they were able to change.
Bubby was more than happy to part with the precious ring, so off to the jeweler they went. Shira could not stop talking of the beautiful ring, and how it must be worth thousands of dollars.
The jeweler seemed to think the ring was valuable, an ‘eternity band’ he called it. “It needs a thorough cleaning, leave it and come back in two days”, the Jeweler concluded.
Two days later they went to pick up their treasure. “Yes, this ring is extremely valuable”, the Jeweler began,“there are three carats of diamonds! “Shira gave Yaakov an approving nod, but the momentary excitement was quickly shatter. “Unfortunately, it is impossible to clean the ring”, the Jeweler continued. There is too much dirt, and now the dirt is imbedded inside the diamonds themselves! If you remove the dirt, the diamonds will crumble to pieces”, he concluded, “I am sorry to tell you, the ring is completely worthless”.
Noach tried to remove their sins, but unfortunately there was nothing else to their life – their life was 100% tethered to their unholy ways. Only through introducing kindness and goodness was Avraham Avinu able to build the people, so that they had a life even after their evil practices were removed.
The more one becomes attached and dependent upon anything unholy, the more it eats away at his very essence. It can be habits that one is not proud of, technology that one cannot rid himself of, or merely practices that do not feel so wrong after their constant repetition. Each and every Jew is loaded with diamonds, make sure to not let anything set in so deep that it chips away at the holy foundation. Then it is possible to slowly remove one’s mistakes and uncover the diamonds from beneath.

Based on a lecture by Rabbi Shraga Kallus Shlita


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