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October 18, 2015 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Lech Lecha

In this week’s Torah portion, Abraham gets told by God to move to Canaan and goes to Egypt because of a famine.  He then tells people that he is Sarah’s brother instead of her husband, fearing that Egyptians might kill him to get his wife.   The Egyptian king likes Sarah and takes her away from her “brother”; it is not clear how voluntary Sarah’s departure from Abraham his.  God protects Sarah from the king’s advances by smiting the latter with illness.  The king says “Why did you not tell me that she was your wife”? (Gen. 12:19) and then sends them off.

Were Abraham’s fears justified? Did he do the right thing?  Arama comes down on Abraham’s side, pointing out that the king objects that Abraham “had not at least told him privately” (emphasis mine) of the true relationship.  In other words, the king is saying that if he had known of the relationship, he would have behaved honorably.  But because the king does not say “Why did you not tell us that she was your wife”, Arama thinks that the king can’t, and doesn’t try to vouch, for the morality of his subjects.  In support of this view, Arama writes that the king “had to issue a command to his people not to molest Abraham.”  However, Gen. 12:20, the verse Arama uses to support this, is a bit more equivocal.  The JPS translation says merely that the king “put men in charge of him [Abraham]”.so it is not clear that Arama is right.

At any rate, Arama is trying to make a broader moral point.  He writes that Abraham had taken all kinds of precuations rather than relying solely on Divine grace, and suggests that this is a pretty good strategy for everyone.  In other words, the whole “God helps those who helps themselves” thing.


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