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Parshas Lech Lecha - The Intention Is What Matters

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l

Posted on 10/29/20

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.


One of Avraham's ten great tests occurred at the beginning of this week's Parsha: to leave his birthplace and travel to where G-d instructs him to go. G-d promised Avraham that if he listens, He will make Avraham into a great nation, bless Avraham with riches, and make his name great.
With all of these guaranteed rewards, wouldn’t it have been very easy for Avraham to listen and go? Why is this challenge considered to be one of Avraham’s ten most difficult challenges?



Some of the commentators answer that Avraham’s test was to listen solely because it was G-d's will, not because of all the benefits that would come from it. The test was the KAVANA [the INTENT]. 
Avraham passed the test with flying colors, as the Pasuk attests that Avraham left solely because it was G-d’s commandment.

This is a very applicable lesson for all of us. There are many aspects of Yiddishkeit where the act of the Mitzva is very pleasurable. What separates the ‘Adult from the child’ is the kavana. Are we eating because we enjoy food, or because we need to eat to stay healthy in order to serve Hashem properly? Are we learning solely because we love the intellectual stimulation and depth, or because Hashem wants us to study His Torah and get pleasure from it? Do we look forward to Shabbos as the day when we can simply relax from our hectic schedule, or as the day that we can connect to Hashem better without all of the distractions?

These are lofty goals, but as descendants of Avraham Avinu, we have that innate spiritual DNA to rise to the occasion of doing the Mitzvos solely because it is Hashem's will, even though we derive pleasure from them.  

{Reb Borcuh Leib writes: On this test of Avraham Avinu, Rashi explains that Avraham received a bracha for great wealth, because when a person travels, one's wealth decreases. So Hashem gave him a bracha that he should still have wealth.
I saw a beautiful insight from Rabbi Reisman. He quotes Rav Pam who says that you see from this test that moving isn’t simple. To move from one place to another, one can lose out on many things. Staying in one place can create a tremendous salvation.
Rav Pam would often say you're looking for the city of happiness? The city of happiness is in the state of mind. Wherever you are, be content. Be happy with what you have. Your eyes should not be looking all over the place. That is a lesson from the first test that Avraham Avinu had to move from where he was. Moving is not simple.
Let us try to be content with ourselves with what we have, and not constantly look over our shoulder to see what our neighbor has. That will hopefully help us live happier, healthier lives where we can devote ourselves to becoming greater people.