Saturday, January 18, 2020

There’s a concept brought down in Eruvin (31b) that mitzvot lav lehenot nitnu, mitzvot were not given for pleasure. Yet Rashi explains that when God told Avraham to go from his land, it was “for [his] benefit and for [his] good.” Is God perhaps negating the rule of mitzvot lav lehenot nitnu, for Avraham is gaining pleasure from obeying God’s command?

Perhaps Lech Lecha isn’t a true mitzvah, only a command, for it’s not counted as one of the 613 mitzvot, but still the question seems to resound, as a command from God likely falls under the rubric of a mitzvah.

It has been suggested that of course one gets pleasure from a mitzvah, only it’s the eternal reward that is the true pleasure. Yet, here God seems to contradict this notion by guaranteeing great wealth and fame to Avraham “in this world” for leaving his birthplace.

Perhaps it may be argued that God was giving “counsel” to Avraham. But why did Avraham merit to receive “warm” counsel from the Almighty that wasn’t under the rubric of a command?

There’s a midrash that says that at a very young age Avraham discovered God, like one who saw a light burning in a castle and was drawn to it. Avraham had the imagination to see God where no one else could.

Furthermore, he defied his own father in the name of God. This is an act that surpasses nature and in return he’s saved miraculously from a burning fire, a phenomenon above nature as well.

He also defied the world order at the time by abstaining from idol worship, yet welcomed the world to convert under his auspices.

Perhaps the lesson from Avraham is that if you recognize God clearly, show unbridled love to the Creator and bring the masses to convert, you gain a great “Advisor.”

God counseled Avraham to begin a journey that would bring him wealth and fame due to his friendship with him.

May we all strive to mimic the actions of Avraham, thereby becoming “peers” to the “Wondrous One” who can then put us on the path of securing wealth and fame.

Steven Genack is the author of “Articles, Anecdotes & Insights,” Genack/Genechovsky Torah from Gefen Press.