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After Lot left him, Avram heard HaShem’s voice: “Avram, look all around you. As far as you can see, in every direction – north, south, east, and west – I will give this land to you and your children and your children’s children. Can you count the dust of the earth? Your descendants will be as numerous as there are specks of dust in the entire world!”
Did Avram hold a grudge against Lot who gave him so many problems? Of course not! Avram, the great Tzaddik (righteous person), put together an entire army and even risked his life in order to save Lot!
Here is the story:
In those days there were kings who often fought each other in order to conquer more and more land. In one of these battles, 5 kings, including King Bera of Sodom, fought against four other kings, led by King Kedarla’omer. After many years of fighting the four kings won against the 5 kings. The winners took much property and money from Sodom, as well as many prisoners. One of those prisoners was Lot, Avram’s nephew.
Avram heard of Lot’s troubles and knew he had to help. Remember… after Haran, Lot’s father risked his life to believe in HaShem – he was thrown by Nimrod in the furnace – Avram resolved to take care of his orphaned nephew. Without hesitating, he put together a small army of 318 men and prepared for a big fight.
Kedarla’omer had an army of thousands of men, and as Avram’s little army crept closer to them that night, they were pretty scared.
“Take a look at those mighty warriors! We’ll never beat them! We’re finished, Kaput… It’s a total disaster!”
But Avram was not frightened at all. The few fought against many and they miraculously won. When Avram’s men picked up sand and threw it against Kedarla’omer’s army, the sand turned into swords and daggers! And in turn, when Kedarla’omer’s soldiers threw their ammunition at Avram’s army, their swords and daggers turned into harmless sand!
“It’s incredible! Let’s get outta here!” they cried out, as Kedarla’omer’s army made a quick U-turn.
The king of Sodom hurried to plead with Avram, “You can keep all the money and possessions you fought for. They are rightfully yours. However, I am begging you, please give me back my people you captured!”
Avram declared to the king of Sodom, “Take your people back and I want none of your belongings – not even a single thread or a shoelace. HaShem has blessed me with great wealth. Let no man say that the king of Sodom has made Avram rich.”
“But come to think of it,” continued Avram, “As a token of gratitude to HaShem, give one tenth of the money to Malki-Tsedek, for he is a Kohen (priest) to HaShem.”
After winning the great war against the four kings, Avram got very worried. “Perhaps by winning this war I used up all my reward in store for me,” he thought to himself.
HaShem came to Avram in a dream and promised him, “Avram. Do not worry! Indeed, you will have much reward. You will have a son. And not only that,” HaShem continued, “you will also have countless descendants. Look up at the sky. Can you count the stars? Your offspring will be as many as the stars in heaven.”
HaShem also promised Avram that his children would inherit the entire land of Cana’an, later to be known as Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel.
Avram indeed believed all that HaShem promised, yet 10 years had already passed since they moved to Cana’an and still Sarai had no children. Something had to be done. Sarai came up with an idea. “Avram, please marry Hagar, my Egyptian servant. She is the daughter of the mighty Paraoh and a very respected person. Surely HaShem will help and you will be able to bear a child from her.”
Avram listened to his wife Sarai and indeed married Hagar. Within a very short time Hagar was expecting a baby! Hagar was not sensitive at all and would tease Sarai in a sing-song voice, “I’m going to have a baby, and you’re not!” Sarai realized that it had been her idea for Avram to marry her servant. Still, the way Hagar was speaking to her was really hurting her and she went to complain to her husband.
Avram left it up to Sarai to decide what to do. Sarai made life so unpleasant for Hagar that she ran away to the desert. But HaShem sent an angel to command her to return to Sarai. The angel also told Hagar a few more interesting things: she would have a son, and his name would be Yishmael, and he would be a wild man who would be the forefather of a large nation.
Hagar listened to the angel, went back to Sarai and had a child who was named Yishmael.
13 years after his son Yishmael was born, when Avram was 99 years old, HaShem said to him, “I will make a covenant between us. I will make you the father of many nations and from now on, your name will no longer be Avram. It is Avraham, meaning the father of many. I will be your G-d and the G-d of all of your descendants forever and ever!”
Then HaShem commanded Avraham to circumcise himself (called a Bris Milah), as a sign of the covenant between them. He also commanded Avraham to pass on the covenant of circumcision to every Jewish male at the age of 8 days old.
There was still more news! Sarai got a new name, too – Sarah. And HaShem promised that Sarah would have a son. Now this made Avraham laugh with joy! After all, he was almost 100 years old and Sarah was 90!
HaShem told Avraham that his son’s name would be Yitzchak, meaning “he will laugh.”
Avraham was overjoyed, and immediately went to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bris Milah (circumcision).
Afterwards, Avraham needed to rest and recuperate for a while until he felt better. As he rested in his tent, HaShem Himself came to do the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick)!
Next week’s Parsha continues with the arrival of guests appearing at the tent of Avraham and Sarah.
Were they really Arabs as they appeared to be? Or perhaps they were angels with some very special missions to accomplish?
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