February 24, 2018 ~ Shabbat ZAKHOR. Maqam SIGAH.

Shabbat Lekh Lekha

Terah's Legacy

וימת תרח בחרן - After witnessing the tragic death of one son and an infertility struggle of another, Terah, a native of Ur Kasdim, along with his family, embark on the Land of Canaan to break away from home and start anew. For reasons left unclear, Terah interrupts the journey and stops mid trade route in the merchant outpost of Harran (southeastern Turkey). Once in Harran, he gets so comfortable that he settles there; essentially abandoning his mission to reach Canaan. The Torah, in Genesis 11:32, does not look favorably on those who abandon their goals, and therefore simply documents that "Terah died in Harran" (וימת תרח בחרן). Unfortunately, as a quitter, Terah becomes a footnote in history, and for all the 205 years that he lived, he has no legacy other than his involvement in the "worship of other gods" (Joshua 24:2). It is only much later on that his son, Abram, gets back on the proper track to complete the journey that his father started. Beth Torah Bulletin, October 28, 2017.

Abram the Hebrew

ויגד לאברם העברי - When described by outsiders, Abram is referred to as "the Hebrew" (Genesis 14:13). Besides for this being a reference to his nomadic lifestyle or ancestry (Eber son of Shem), there is an added meaning to "Abram Ha-Ibri," which literally translates as "Abram, the one who stands on the other side." We see many examples of how Abram's behavior was different from the norm. When Abram receives word that Lot was held captive, he immediately mobilizes to rescue him. This is remarkable, because he did this for an estranged nephew to whom he had a poor relationship with. Shortly after this, we read that Abram turns down significant wealth from the King of Sodom, because Abram did not want him or anyone else to take credit for his prosperity. From these stories and more, we see that our patriarch was a true "Hebrew;" proudly behaving in ways that were above and beyond any "normal person" (Beth Torah, 11/8/16).