Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Lech Lecho

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In this week’s Torah Portion, Lech Lecho, we are told that Avrom built an altar to Hashem. The Torah says that[1] “Avrom pitched his tents, and came and lived in the plain of Mamre, which is in Chevron. There he built an altar to G-d.”

Earlier in the Parshah, we are told of two other altars that Avrom built. First the Torah tells us that[2] “Hashem appeared to Avrom, and He said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ There he built an altar to the Lord Who had appeared to him.” Rashi explains that his reason for constructing this altar was “for the good tidings (which he heard from Hashem) concerning his descendants, and the good tidings concerning the Land of Israel (which he heard from Hashem).” We then find that[3] “Avrom moved from there to the mountain, east of Bais El, and he pitched his tent. Bais El was to the west and Ai was to the east. There he built an altar to the Lord, and he called in the name of the Lord.” Rashi also explains the reason for his constructing this altar. “He prophesied that his progeny would sin there because of Achan’s sin, and he prayed for them there[4].”

We find that Rashi finds a need to explain why Avrom built these two altars. However, he offers no explanation whatsoever as to why Avrom built the first altar we discussed. We know that Rashi explains everything which the beginning student needs to know in order to understand “Peshat,” the simple meaning of the Torah. Therefore, just as we need to understand what Rashi writes, we need to understand that which he does not write. Rashi found it necessary to explain the reason for building the first to altars. Why did he not find a need to explain the third?

One explanation is as follows. Avrom built the first altar for personal reasons; Hashem promised him progeny and the Holy Land. He built the second for a greater purpose; as atonement for sins. The third and greatest altar was built with no motive in mind. It did not have any benefit whatsoever for any individual; it was built solely for G-d’s honor. Therefore, Rashi does not write any reason for its building. It served no “earthly” purpose.

May we merit to learn from our forefather Avrom; that all of our actions should be for the sake of Hashem’s honor. May this lead to the complete and true redemption.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י חתנו ובתו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 13:18.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 12:7.

[3]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 12:7.

[4]. For the details of Achan’s sin and its repercussions, see the Book of Yehoshua, Chapter 7.


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