Avraham teaches us that we must not only be in the right place at the right time, we must also live up to our values to make an impact on the world around us.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Lech Lecha” (Genesis 12:1-17:27) and in it we read how Avraham immigrated (“made Aliyah”) to the Land of Israel as God commanded him. What is interesting and noted by the commentators is this: the Torah doesn’t merely tell us that Avraham arrived in the land of Israel, but rather, the Torah unexpectedly gives us a detailed rendition of where Avraham pitched his tent. As the verse says: “Avram,” which was Avraham’s original name before God changed it, “traveled to the Land of Canaan. … He relocated to the east of Beit El and pitched his tent, with Beit El on the west and Ai on the east and there he built an altar to God.” [Gen 12:8].
Why does the Torah use so many words to tell us where Avraham pitched his tent? Why is it so important to know which highways led where, and which other cities were in the immediate area? There does not seem to be any precedent for a description of this nature. What’s going on over here?
It is explained that the answer can be found in the secret to successful real estate buying and selling: location, location, location! Location is everything when purchasing real estate, whether business or residential. Who wants to open a huge grocery store in a dark, unattractive industrial area with loud, polluting factories? Who would want to shop there with their toddlers in tow? Who wants to buy a house far from the place you work and where the kids go to school? When purchasing real estate, we ponder questions such as these to ensure maximum enjoyment, convenience, and the financial success of our purchase.
And so it was for Avraham. He was opening a business. He was going into the “God Business,” teaching the world about the foolishness of paganism and idol worship and introducing the world to the One and only God, the God of Israel. To be successful in such a mission, Avraham had to open shop in a high traffic area. Setting up his “God shop” in a back alleyway somewhere, no matter how cheap the rent, wouldn’t push his agenda too far.
Therefore, the Torah tells us exactly where Avraham pitched his tent and set up shop. One may know that the areas of Beit El and Ai were truly high traffic areas, which were along the main roads leading to the other major cities in the area. Avraham knew that location is everything and chose wisely where to live. His “information center” and altar were seen by everyone who would have stopped and made inquires, allowing Avraham to introduce many people to the one and only God.
The message is clear for us. We must be like Avraham, trying our best to expose people to God and living the Torah way of life. All people must believe in God whether they are Jewish or not. We must all make an effort to share the Good Word and help people enjoy the meaningful life that the Torah maps out for all mankind!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below:
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