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A Sign For The Children

10/26/12 10:32:28


R Pesach Siegel

Parshas Lech Lecha 5773

This week’s parshah ushers in the period of the Avos HeKedoshim, Avrohom Yitzchok, and Yaakov.

Avrohom Avenu, upon entering Eretz Canaan, travelled along the length and breadth of the land. His journey began from the city of Shechem. 

Avrohom was a prophet. He saw the troubles that would befall his children in Shechem. He saw the abduction of his great granddaughter Dinah and the subsequent battle that followed. And he prayed.

A famine overcame the land. He was forced to leave the land and descend to the land of Mitzrayim. Upon entering Mitzrayim he feared for his life and for the abduction of his wife Sarah by the hands of the Egyptians.

Our sages enlighten us. They say, “All that occurred to the Avos is a sign for the offspring” (Medrash Rabi Tanchuma). The Bnei Yisroel, as a nation, relived all that our forefathers lived through.

Avrohom went to Shechem, prayed for his children to emerge unscathed when they would undergo their troubles there, and so it was. He walked the “streets of Shechem” as a conquerer, and so it came to pass for his children.

He went down to Egypt due to a famine, and his children followed. He feared his life was in danger, but not that of his wife’s. So too, Yaakov Avenu and his family went down to Egypt in search of food during a famine. The Jews were enslaved, and the male offspring were thrown into the Nile river, the females were spared.

Hashem smote Pharaoh in order to free Sarah Imeinu and Avrohom left Mitzrayim with wealth.

The Ramban tells us, “Avrohom Avenu sinned. His sin, although inadvertent, was a great one. He placed his wife in danger of sinning for fear of his own life. He left the Land of Israel, a land that he was commanded to reside in. He left because of a famine. Hashem would have provided for him amidst the famine. This too is a sin. It was therefore decreed upon his offspring to be exiled to MItzrayim under the rule of Pharaoh. The place of the sin becomes the place of the punishment.”


The Maharal (Gevuras Hashem, Perek 9) asks a number of questions on the words of the Ramban.

Why is it considered a sin to go to a place of sustenance in time of famine? One is not supposed to rely on miraculous intervention.

If it is considered a sin, why would Avrohom Avenu repeat the exact same sin by going down to the Land of the Plishtim?

Yitzchok Avenu also went to the Land of the Plishtim due to a famine. Why would he repeat the sin of his father?


We are born into this world in order to grow. Hashem created a physical world that hides his presence.

The laws and forces of nature are like a mask that blocks us from seeing Hashem’s guiding hand in creation. We are being tested.  Will our perspective be fooled by the limitations that the natural laws place upon us or will we be able to pierce the veil and see that in Hashem’s world all is possible.

Hashem deals with his children according to their level of belief.

For those who the natural order is reality, they exist in a prison of their own making.

For those who transcend the laws of nature everything that is within the context of G-d’s will is possible.


Mori veRabi, Rav Chaim Stein, z”l (the Telsher Rosh Yeshiva) explained. A sin in the area of bitachon is dependent on one’s individual level. What is a sin for one is not necessarily a sin for another.

Avrohom Avenu was undergoing a series of trials. The ultimate goal of these trials was to gradually bring Avrohom Avenu to the pinnacle of bitachon.  

Hashem commanded Avrohom to dwell in Eretz Canaan.  Then Hashem brought a famine upon the land. Avrohom was being tested.

At the time of this trial, Avrohom had not yet reached the level that he could live “limaalah miderech hateva” (above nature). He was “in touch” with his spiritual level and his awareness of Hashem’s presence had not yet reached the level that he could truthfully rely on Hashem when such reliance would challenge the reality surrounding him. This level is not available to the common man. It is reached by the great ones, and he wasn’t there yet.

And so, he made the decision to live within nature. He went down to Mitzrayim.

What didn’t he see?

Had he managed to find within himself the required level of clarity, he could have seen that this famine was the very test, that by way of passing it he would acquire a brand new level. He would have risen to the level of living beyond the confines of nature. That famine was like a bridge, a bridge to a higher existence.

It was a lost opportunity. And once he decided to stay within the boundaries of the natural order, he was “locked in” to this way of life for the present.

It was a sin the first time, but when the famine came again, it was incumbent upon him to be aware of his self imposed limitations and go to the Land of the Plishtim.

Yitzchok Avenu was born amidst these limitations so he too went down to the Land of the Plishtim.

Fri, January 24 2020 27 Teves 5780