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 NETZAVIM AND VAYEILECH:

View Complete List

Not Hiding, But Seek
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Song of the Conscience
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Falsehood Has No Legs
Shlomo Katz - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Personal Business Plan
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Vested Interest
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Going Beyond Realization
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Of Blandisments and Seductions
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Parting Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

Encouraging News Before Rosh Hashana
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

> Waking Up in Time
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Framed Symbols Part II
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Rav Chaim Saw In The Pasuk What We See With Our Eyes
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

ArtScroll

Moshe Rabeinu's Last Day
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Plenty of Redeeming Values
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Heard but not Seen
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

So It Is Written
Rabbi Label Lam - 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