Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Lech Lecha

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"As for me, behold, my Covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations." [17:4]

The Medrash (in Parshas Vayeira) tells us that Avraham said that after he had circumcised himself, many converts came to join the covenant. The Bais HaLevi, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt"l of Brisk, points out that this seems illogical. We would expect just the contrary -- people should have stayed away because of the pain of circumcision!

In order to understand this Medrash, says the Bais HaLevi, we need to better understand the verse above.

Every person on the face of the earth has free will, and can choose good over evil. Everyone has the opportunity to be a good person, and the righteous of all nations are guaranteed a place in the World to Come. And yet, this recurs in each generation -- as we know, the fact that a person is righteous does not guarantee that his or her children will choose the same path.

The Covenant of Avraham is different. A person who is born into the Jewish people, even a sincere convert who later turns away from Judaism, remains a Jew. Even if he sins, he remains one of the Children of Israel. This stems from the Covenant of circumcision. Even though not all of Avraham's children, and not all of Yitzchak's children, followed that path and joined the same covenant (thus leaving Avraham the founder of nations, plural), the Jewish people was established with the Covenant. Today, it is no longer optional; one cannot refuse the birthright of this nation. And the idea that one could join a people, and steer his or her children into that same people for generations to come -- that was very attractive. That remains attractive today.

For all of the politics today about conversion, and the arguments about patrilineal descent, we must remember -- these arguments which threaten to divide us only bear upon a very small number of people (though it is growing). We all agree (or should) that those born into the Jewish people cannot be disqualified, dispatched, "delegitimized," as Jews. Were someone to attempt to do otherwise, it would cast aspersions upon our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and the Covenant which G-d made with them. We are fortunate to walk with eternity -- let us recognize it, every day, and learn to value every fellow member of the Covenant.


 






ARTICLES ON MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Following Instructions!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Taking Action
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

On the Road Again (to Repentance)
Shlomo Katz - 5762

ArtScroll

Personal Tragedies
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Read the Directions
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5763

Learn from Your Past!
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Dead First
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Setbacks and Comebacks
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Events of the Past
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

> Final Destination
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Listen to the Mussar
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

How?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Oath of Office
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

It Defies Belief
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

What Are We Missing On Tisha B'Av?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Growing Pains
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information