Monday, April 22, 2013

351 - Chayei Sara

This week's parsha describes in great detail the search for a suitable wife for Yitzchak. This narrative begins with Avraham appointing his servant Eliezer to accomplish the above task, and the ensuing dialogue. Rashi observes an interesting aspect of their conversation. Initially, Avraham tells Eliezer, "And I will make you swear by Hashem, the G-d of the heavens and the G-d of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of Canaan" (Bereishis 24, 3).  In contrast, a few pesukim later (24, 7) when Avraham once again describes Hashem, he refers to Him merely as, "Hashem the G-d of the heavens Who took me from the house of my father and from the land of my birth."

Rashi explains that Avraham was implying that when Hashem first spoke to him and commanded him to leave the house of his father, He could only be referred to as the "G-d of the heavens" since only a few people on earth recognized Him as the Creator. However, now, at the time of their conversation, Hashem was also considered "the G-d of the earth" since, due to tireless efforts, he succeeded in making Hashem known to the inhabitants of the world. 

What does this mean? What difference does it make if people recognize Hashem as the Creator or not; either way He created the earth? Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) explains that certainly Hashem was the Ruler of the earth even prior to Avraham's involvement, but His Kingship was hidden. Thus, His relationship with the world was one of hester panim and judging according to the strict letter of the law, for as Chazal (Sanhedrin 111b) tell us, "When there are wicked people in the world there is [Hashem's] anger in the world." This resulted in punishments incurred by those who lived in the generations of the flood and the dispersion. 

In contrast, after Hashem became known down on earth, He began relating to the world with he'aras panim thereby judging with compassion and kindness. Hashem relates to the world in the exact manner that the world relates to Him. Avraham succeeded not only in changing people, but also in changing the way Hashem interacted with His world.

This idea holds true also on a personal level. To the extent that a person makes Hashem real and a part of his life, he will merit Hashem's involvement in His life. He is as connected as we want Him to be. Take a step toward Him and experience some of His infinite he'aras panim!

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