Reading the Writing on the Scroll

This d’var torah is dedicated in the merit of a speedy recovery for Rabbi Yehuda Glick, הרב יהודה יהושע בן יתה ברנדה (Harav Yehuda Yehosua ben Yita Brenda), and for נשה בת מרים (Nesha bat Miram). May Hashem grant them a complete and speedy recovery, amongst the other ill people of Israel.

Early into our סדרה, Ramban famously writes:

כל מה שאירע לאבות – סימן לבנים

All that occurred to the forefathers- are a symbol to the children (רמב”ן, בראשית יב:ו)

Nachmanides here presents the principle of מעשה אבות סימן לבנים, that events which occurred to our forefathers and their reactions are lessons to how we should respond if we face similar circumstances. My long-time readers know that I have made it my goal over the past two years to show that in every סדרה of the Torah, there are very timely lessons that must guide our life decisions, especially given current events which very much echo challenges that our forefathers faced. The beginning of פרשת לך-לך is “ground zero” for this principle- Ramban, and the מדרש בראשית רבה both extensively speak of the importance of our following Avraham’s example of heeding G-d’s call to move to ארץ ישראל.

However, I do not believe that מעשה אבות סימן לבנים is limited to the beginning of our סדרה- the hectic and unstable beginning of Avram’s life in ארץ כנען can provide a wealth of insight and guidance to dealing with a lot of the challenges that the Jewish People as a whole face both in Israel and the Diaspora. I would like to present another place in our סדרה, where we can gain חיזוק and guidance in dealing with current events based on Avram’s life experience.

Very early into Avram’s life in ארץ כנען, famine and drought force our patriarch to abandon his newfound homeland to move down to Egypt. Before making the journey, Avram warns his wife Sarai that the Egyptians may want to kill him and abduct her because of her beauty (or according to most מפרשים, the ugliness of Egyptian women). This ends up being true, as shortly after their arrival in מצרים, Sarai is abducted to Paroah’s house. But, G-d does not appreciate this debauchary, and punnished the Egyptians and their king (according to Rashi, it was a נגע which clearly demonstrated to Paroah that he was dong something immoral), and Paroah returns Sarai to her husband. Then, Paroah does the unexpected:

וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה, לְאַבְרָם, וַיֹּאמֶר, מַה-זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִּי

And Paroah called out to Avram, and he said: What is this you have done to me?!… (בראשית יב:יח)

Paroah, who had abducted whom he thought to be Avram’s sister and was punished for this, was blaming Avram for the whole affair? While we can understand why Paroah would be upset (after all, Chizkuni explains that Paroah was especially upset because he hoped for Sarai to be his queen, not just one of his פילגשים), how could he blame the נגע on Avram, when it was clearly his fault for kidnapping Sarai?
I believe that this is lesson number one in מעשה אבות סימן לבנים. Avram, like his modern descendants, was forced out of Eretz Yisrael to live in the land of other nations. Upon arrival, the locals wasted no time taking advantage of the עברי, taking away his wife and treating him nicely as long as he cooperated. But, when they crossed a line and violated the שבע מצות בני נח and G-d intervened on Avram’s behalf, they established a pattern that all, even our modern-day enemies would eventually follow: blame it on the Jews. It does not make a difference that the Egyptians “started it” by kinapping a married woman- the response is still “מה זאת עשית לי?- What have you Jews done to us?”

In our times, when Jews around the world are facing the same question because of Hamas’s failed summer war and the resulting fallout, there is no reasoning with our hateful neighbors who jump on the opportunity to blame even non-existing נגעים (like the Palestinian refugee problem) on us. The only effective response is to accept the principle of מעשה אבות סימן לבנים and follow Avram’s example:

וַיַּעַל אַבְרָם מִמִּצְרַיִם הוּא וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר-לוֹ

And Avram went up out of Egypt- he, his wife, and all that was theirs (יג:א)


On Wednesday night, outspoken Jewish rights activist and American oleh Rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot outside of the Begin Center in Jerusalem following a Temple Institute event there. The perpetrator, Mu’taz Hijazi, a Muslim terrorist who had served 11 years in jail for a murder before being released last year, was apprehended by Israeli police early Thursday morning, but not before he managed to yell “you’ve made me angry” to Rabbi Glick and shoot him three times point blank. Rabbi Glick was rushed to Sha’arei Tzedek Medical Center and, at the time of this writing, is in stable, but life-threatening, condition.

It is interesting that this terrible attempted murder took place two days before we read פרשת לך-לך. Towards the end of the סדרה, Avram enters a relationship with Sarai’s maidservant Hagar in the hope to produce an offspring, something which he wasn’t able to do with his wife. Hagar immediately begins to mistreat her mistress, and “ותענה שרי- Sarai mistreated her,” and Hagar runs away. An angel of Hashem encounters her and tells her to submit to Sarai, afterwards promising the Egyptian maidservant that she will have a son Yishma’el, who will be:

פֶּרֶא אָדָם–יָדוֹ בַכֹּל, וְיַד כֹּל בּוֹ…

…An animal of a man, with is hands against every man and everyone’s against him. (בראשית טז:יב)

On Wednesday night, a murderous animal, very worthy of his forebear’s description “פרא אדם,” tried to kill one of our brethren because of his strong views of Jewish rights. Mu’taz Hijazi (may he burn in the deepest parts of Hell) demonstrated that Yishma’el’s descendants are still “ידו בכל”- their raidcal Jihad agenda pits them against everyone else in the world. While this particular scum may have been killed for resisting police arrest, I now call upon Jews worldwide as well as global leaders to recognize this aspect of Muslim character, and to react as the פסוק says above: “ויד כל בו,” by at least condemning the attempted murder of Rabbi Glick and recognizing its seriousness.

With Hashem’s help, Rabbi Glick will merit a complete recovery, among the other ill of the Jewish People.

About the Author
Born and raised in Teaneck NJ, Tzvi Silver moved to Israel in 2012 after catching aliyah fever while learning abroad. Tzvi is now pursuing a degree in Engineering from the Jerusalem College of Technology, and works on the side as a contributor for local newspapers in the New York Area. Tzvi's interests include learning Torah, rabble-rousing, and finding creative ways of mixing the two.
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