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Parsha Lech Lecha: “What Are You?”

RABBI DONIEL FRANK | Director, M.A.P. Seminars, Inc., Marriage and Family Therapist

Click here to download PDF transcript for Lech Lecha

When Hashem tells Avraham to leave his homeland, He promises him – among other things – that he’ll become a blessing. According to Rashi, this means that he will have the power to bless whomever he wants.

It’s interesting that the Torah doesn’t make this point more directly by saying that he’ll have the ability to bless others. Instead it says that he will become a blessing. Why is that?

It is well known that Avraham was deeply passionate about people. He wasn’t someone who simply did good things for others. Chesed wasn’t just another behavior in the list of things that Avraham did in his life. He was the embodiment of giving. It defined him as a person; it was at his core. So Hashem’s promise to him was not that he’d give blessings, but that he’d be so saturated with the spirit of giving, that he would radiate blessing. Wherever he would go, blessing would go with him. According to R’ Yeruchem Levovitz, this means that whoever would interact with Avraham, whoever would even mention his name, would become blessed. And by becoming a blessing, Avraham’s spirit of giving was to become contagious. People would just catch it! In that way, Avraham was truly one with the chessed that he did.

According to the Mahpodcast3aral, being the embodiment of what we do is the theme of the Mishna in the Pirkai Avos (4:1) that defines the wise, wealthy, mighty, and honorable person. For example, the wise man is not necessarily someone who has lots of knowledge, as we might have expected. It’s someone who learns from everyone. The way the Maharal understands this, a person can know a lot, but pursuing knowledge may not be his essence. It may not be what drives him. And if it’s not, then the knowledge he has cannot define him as a chacham.

On the other hand, someone who has a voracious drive for knowledge, who looks for it in every circumstance and from every person he meets, is a chacham at his core. Pursuing knowledge is not what he does but it’s who he is. And the chacham’s passion for wisdom rubs off on others. That’s the power of congruence, when we are able to combine what we do with who we are.

For many people, what they do and who they are do not necessarily match up. And that’s fine when we misbehave. But if it’s also true with the good things we do and with the way we spend most of our lives, then it’s worth taking a closer look at ourselves and asking, “What am I?” “What passion and spirit do I carry around with me?” “What communicable energy do I spread to others?” Answering those questions is key to being a positive asset and an inspiration to all the people in our lives.


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