Lech Lecha: Moving Right Along...

Ten points if you can identify the source of this week's dvar Torah title without using Google :)

Last Shabbos night, we took the kids for a walk after the meal.


As we were walking down the street, the kids were guessing the companies of the cars, based on the symbols they saw.  Nothing is more painful to the ears of an American than Israelis pronouncing cars in “Hebrew” (read: completely wrong).


So, as we were walking, my soon-to-be 14-year-old daughter says, “Oooh, that’s a nice car.  We should steal this one!”


I looked at my wife, with tears swelling in my eyes, “That’s MY girl!  That’s EXACTLY what I teach them we should do when we want something we cannot afford!”  I was so, so, proud of her…


Ahh...the joys of educating the next generation!


The hard part of saying over dvrei Torah from Rav Shlomo Brevda is that he took over an hour and I have only a few paragraphs.


Basically, he asks the same question regarding two places in this week’s parsha and one place in the parsha in a few weeks.


When Hashem tells Avraham to leave his home and move to Canaan, he is told “Lech Lecha.” Rashi explains that this means “Go for your sake” and is Hashem’s way of promising Avraham that if he goes, he will be rewarded greatly.


A line later, the Torah writes that Avraham “took” his wife, rather than the standard “left” with his wife.  The Zohar explains that he “took” her with words, explaining to her the importance of moving.


When Yaakov is told to leave his father-in-law and return to Canaan, he first speaks to his wives about why he needs to leave.


The one question that covers all of these things is, “Isn’t a direct commandment from Hashem Himself good enough for them to say, ‘Okay, let’s go!’”?  We’re talking about Avraham, Sarah, Rochel and Leah.  One would think that Hashem’s commandment is good enough.  Why does Hashem need to persuade Avraham that moving will be for his benefit.  And why does Avraham need to persuade Sarah?  And why does Yaakov need to persuade Rochel and Leah?


Halachically speaking it is forbidden for a man to force his wife to move from one country to another country, since it is such a difficult transition.  He can only move if she agrees.  Regarding moving to Eretz Yisroel, there seems to be an argument, since moving to Eretz Yisroel will entail more and better performance of mitzvos.  The Zohar holds that it is forbidden for a man to force his wife to move, even to Eretz Yisroel.  When a person has his or her place, it is very difficult to move from it to something less familiar.  I’ve been here for 15 years, and in many ways it is still unfamiliar because I did not grow up here;  what my children have experienced, I have not.  So yes, Avraham, Sarah, Rochel and Leah would have most certainly moved without any persuasion.  However, we are to learn something from their behavior.


Rav Brevda applies this to a person’s personal growth and how he educates his family.


When dealing with his children, or potential returnees to Judaism, one should never force a move upward.  A person is naturally comfortable on his spiritual level.  Any movement must not be done by force, but rather but a desire.  You can force children to follow halacha, but if they are not taught the "why's," explained the rewards, and taught in a positive manner, then when they leave the house, they will leave their parents ways.


Similarly when a husband or wife wants to make some spiritual change in the house, it cannot be forced upon the spouse.  Only when the spouse is convinced that this change would be for their benefit can they enact such changes.


And, of course, this also deals with how we deal with ourselves.  We too should not force changes in our lives.  Only when we feel that such changes will be to our benefit should we do so.  Any time we force something on ourselves, and it pains us to do so, we will suffer from it in the long-term.


Moving, whether physically or spiritually, is a painful experience and very stressful.  It is important that when we do move, we do it with happiness and conviction that we are doing the right thing, and moving in the right direction.


Have a wonderful Shabbos!