Living with Avrohom Avinu
Regarding Parshas Lech Lecha there is a famous saying which promotes Simcha and Bitachon.
‘Parshas Bereishis is a happy parsha in which the world is created and Hashem is pleased, as it says ‘Ki Tov’. Although towards the end of the parsha, the story becomes less pleasant, in general, Bereishis is a happy one amongst Yiddin. Parshas Noach is about the Mabul – flood and it’s a melancholy week, however it ends on a happy note with the birth of Avraham Avinu. The truly happy week is Parshas Lech Lecha, for during all the days of the week we live with Avraham Avinu who is Moser Nefesh to spread elokus – g-dliness through the world. His mesirus nefesh-self sacrifice for torah and Mitzvos he bequeathed to all Yiddin.’
It would be interesting to calculate how many people are uplifted and ‘truly happy’ during Parshas Lech Lecha, especially because they are living with Avraham Avinu.
Let’s put this into context. This passage was originally said by the Rebbe Rashab in (1891) on motzay Shabbos Lech Lecha. Earlier that morning, the Frierdiker Rebbe saw that his father was in an elated, joyful mood, with tears flowing down his face. This confused the Frierdiker Rebbe, who was 10 at the time, and later that evening he had the opportunity to ask his father about it. “Those were tears of joy,” was the Rebbe Rashab’s reply, and he continued to explain. “In the first years of the Alter Rebbe’s leadership, he announced in public that we have to ‘live with the times’. The chassidim soon discovered that this meant that we have to live with the Parsha of the week, and the portion of the day. We don’t just study it intellectually, but live with it, so that it should inspire us and positively affect the entire day.
So Parshas Bereishis was a generally happy week, parshas Noach a little less so, and parshas Lech Lecha is the truly happy week, hence this morning I cried tears of joy.”
In other words, the Rebbe Rashab was fulfilling the lesson of living with the times, and was authentically happy on the Shabbos of Parshas Lech Lecha.
To better understand this, and to make it applicable to us, we will outline a few points.
Firstly, the idea of living with the parsha is a huge accomplishment, not at all an easy feat, and certainly not just a nice inspirational saying. To be able to constantly see every occurrence through the lens of the Parsha, to always be inspired by the daily message(s) that the chumash imparts to the extent that the average way of perceiving the physical world is nonexistent, is called living with the parsha (not living with anything else current; the job, the news etc.)
Secondly, it is noteworthy that the Alter Rebbe’s proclamation to live with the times is broken down to weeks and days. They are both units of time. Every day is and entity on its own and in a sense, a full week is its own entity as well. In the talk from the previous rebbe from 1941, (where the above story was related) we see the days brought out and also the week is focused on. As parshiyos are divided into weekly and also daily portions, the weekly portions would correspond with the general impression from living with the times, and the daily portions to the more specific inspiration. Thirdly, when explaining his immense joy, the Rashab first described the status of the two preceding parshiyos before lech licho. Living with the Parsha, as explained above, provides a person with an authentic attachment with Hashem, and each day the attachment will be according to the content of the Chumash of that day.
Therefore Braishis caused much joy for the Rebbe Rashab, through living with it. However, this was only in a general sense. When getting down to details, the conclusion didn’t provide so much joy when living with the Parsha.
When it comes to Simcha and Bitachon in Hashem, it’s possible to have a general emuna about Hashem’s quality and ability which will in turn bring to a certain level of Simcha and tranquility when internalized. However, being that the emuna is general, there may be a simultaneous challenge to the simcha.
Parshas Noach talks about the Mabul with a happy ending. Perhaps this is when there are challenges and toil is necessary to reactivate the bitachon in Hashem. Of course, every event, being as it is orchestrated by Hashem is good, nevertheless, the concealed element of the good makes for an uncomfortable moment while one gets back onto the Bitachon track. The parsha concludes though on a positive note perhaps referencing a positive conclusion to the struggle. Living with Parshas Lech Lecha brings true joy, and not only because there are no sad parts. As the Rebbe Rashab explained, we live with Avraham Avinu every day (detail) of the week, not just in general. The discussion is about the self-sacrifice Avraham Avinu had to spread G-dliness, the power of which is bequeathed to all Yiddin. The entire week of Parshas Lech Lecha we live with Avraham Avinu’s complete devotion to make G-dliness a reality for us, so that we mortals should connect to Hashem completely. And he bequeathed to us not just the ability to do Torah and Mitzvos, but to be devoted to it with self-sacrifice.
This is why the Rebbe Rashab was joyful on Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha to the point that he cried tears of joy. He lived for a full week with Avraham Avinu making Hashem a reality for us and thus enabling us to really connect to Him in the way that Bitachon demands, and this brings to the truest, strongest, and most internal joy.
Living with Avrohom Avinu