August 23, 2019 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) -- Lech L'cha (3)

One of the stories about Abram (soon to become Abraham) that isn't dwelt on in Hebrew school appears in Parshah Lech Lecha. There is a famine and Abram takes his family to Egypt. There he tells his wife Sarai, "If the Egyptians see you and think, 'She is his wife,' they will kill me and let you live." (Gen 12:11) His solution: Sarai will declare herself to be Abram's sister instead. As a result, Sarai is brought to Pharaoh, while Abram is showered with gifts. When God sends plagues to Egypt - in perhaps a rehearsal for Moses' time - the deception is revealed and Abram is chastised for his lie. Then he and Sarai get to leave with all the gifts. As one considers the full implications of this story it has a certain unsavory element to it. Why is it in the Torah at all? Why not present the patriarchs as virtuous heroes? Time and again the Torah shows us our leaders as great people - but also as flawed human beings. Not only is perfection reserved for God, but the notion that people like Abraham and Moses had their faults reminds us that our own flaws should not be seen as barring us from greatness.

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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