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LIVE IT UP

by Stuart W.    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

Hashem said to Abraham: Go for yourself (lech lecha) from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house to the land which I will show you" (Genesis 12:1).

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Hashem said to Abraham: Go for yourself (lech lecha) from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house to the land which I will show you" (Genesis 12:1).

The Midrash relates that even before Hashem told him to go to the land of Israel, Abraham was thrown into a fiery furnace by King Nimrod for refusing to serve an idol. Yet, the Torah does not mention this story at all. Why is the account of lech lecha, to leave his homeland, considered a greater indication of Abraham's commitment and loyalty to Hashem than his willingness to die for Hashem in the fiery furnace?

Another question. Everyday in the shema prayer we say, "And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, all your soul, and all your resources." The verse first mentions "your soul," which means being willing to even die for the sanctification of G-d's name, and then mentions "your resources," which means using one's money for Hashem's sake. Would it not make a more logical progression to put "your resources" before "your soul" since being willing to die requires greater commitment and loyalty?

The answer to both of these questions is that it is much easier to die for the sake of Hashem than to live for His sake. It is nice to say, "I would die for such-and-such a cause," and then to do it, as we see and have seen many idealists throughout the ages, Jews and non-Jews, die for what they believe in. An even higher level than this, however, is to say that we will live for that cause or for that set of beliefs, every day of our life adhering to and putting into practice its ideals. Living one's life for the sake of Hashem means constantly doing things which may be difficult and often require significant self-sacrifice. And even though they seem hard at first, if we practice the dictates of Judaism, we can derive much pleasure from them.

This is what the Torah teaches us from the story of lech lecha and why the command to go to Israel, not his being thrown into a furnace, is considered Abraham's first test. We are commanded not only to give our lives for the sake of Hashem, but to live our lives for His sake.

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