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Shabbat, 1 Cheshvan 5778 / October 21, 2017

Monday: Transforming Descent into Ascent

Monday: Transforming Descent into Ascent

Second Reading: Genesis 12:14–13:4

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The first challenge Abraham faced in the Promised Land was the famine that set in immediately upon his arrival, forcing him to temporarily relocate to neighboring Egypt.
Transforming Descent into Ascent
וַיְהִי כְּבוֹא אַבְרָם מִצְרָיְמָה וגו': (בראשית יב:יד)
When Abraham came to Egypt . . . Genesis 12:14

Instead of being allowed to pursue his monotheistic revival in G‑d’s Promised Land, Abraham was thrust into the world’s most prominent bastion of paganism. How ironic it must have seemed to witness this ambitious monotheist suddenly reduced to seeking the mercy of a cultural environment that mocked his every ideal.

Yet, in a miraculous reversal of fortune, Abraham soon had the Egyptians begging him for mercy, and shortly thereafter returned to the Land of Israel with greater wealth, with a greater reputation, and accompanied by Hagar, the Egyptian princess who would, in time, become the mother of Ishmael, his first child. It thus became retroactively clear that this apparent regression was actually a further stage in Abraham’s progression toward his goals.

Similarly, we must never be intimidated by the world – neither by the world outside us nor by the “world” of personal desires, fears, or preconceived notions within us. Once we answer G‑d’s call to “go, to yourself,” we are no longer bound by the limits of our own capabilities; even apparent regressions will ultimately prove to be an integral part of the process leading to ever-higher realizations of our Divine purpose in life.1

Footnotes
1.
Likutei Sichot, vol. 5, pp. 58–63.
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (11 Nissan 1902–3 Tammuz 1994) became the seventh rebbe of the Chabad dynasty on 10 Shevat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century, a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah, and fluent in many languages and on scientific subjects. The Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet, having sent thousands of emissaries around the globe, dedicated to strengthening Judaism.

Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, author and anthologist, and is editor-in-chief at Chabad House Publications of California. He is the author and translator of Apples from the Orchard, gleanings from the writings of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534–1572) on the Torah, and is the author and editor-in-chief of the Kehot Chumash produced by Chabad House Publications, featuring an interpolated translation of the Torah with commentary adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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