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The Systems of the Jewish Year

A Thought for the Week

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

I’m going to give you Eretz Yisroel; it will be yours and your children’s. This is what G-d said to Abraham. G-d said this to Abraham in person; Abraham didn’t have to rely on Mesorah, transmission or old texts. Hashem said it to him and Abraham heard it.

Abraham’s response: Bameh Ayda? Well how will I know? Can you guarantee it? Can I have it in writing?

Avrohom! Who are you talking to? I’m G-d! Isn’t my word enough!? For asking this question Abraham was punished that all of his descendants became slaves in Egypt. (Nedarim 32a)

There are two kind of relationships that can exist. There is a business relationship model and a love relationship model. Ideally, they are both based on trust. In business trust is a must. Certainly trust is the basis for love. Yet the two relationships are very different. The terms are different. In business one looks for guarantees, for contracts, for cosigners, for forecasts, for budgets. One needs to be covered – just in case. In love one looks for the sincerity in your partners eyes, the glow of the smile, the chemistry. G-d spoke to Abraham as a loving G-d. Ani ledodi vedodi lee. He took Abraham by the hand and said don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, I’ll give you children, I’ll give you a homeland. Abraham asked for the pre-nuptial. How can I know for sure? He changed the relationship from love to business.

G-d made us slaves. If you want to understand the business aspect of our relationship, understand that you have no say. You can’t ask “Bameh Ayda?” A slave can never ask for guarantees, a slave lives by the mercy of his or her master. Abraham, not G-d, changed the terms of the relationship from love to business. The punishment of slavery is inherent in the crime.

We have to be careful what we ask for of G-d. When we are being loved our relationship is on a completely different level. If we ask too many questions, if we ask for guarantees, we change that level to a place we may not want to be.

Years ago I remember meeting someone who seemed a bit odd. He wanted a job as a fund-raiser, which in itself makes one wonder about ones psychological stability. I started to ask questions to find out if I was dealing with a normal person. Just because you’re crazy, doesn’t mean your stupid. The man understood my questions and immediately took a certificate out of his pocket. Here, he said, I have a document signed by a psychiatrist certifying that I am normal. I immediately said to myself, if you need it in writing it’s not for me. Abraham needed it in writing!

We have to be careful in our own relationships to classify them and stick to the standard. My wife, husband, children, friends, rebbe – this is not business! Perhaps we feel more comfortable on a business level, we feel more in control - but if you make it business you will ruin the relationship.

Certainly our relationship with Hashem is not a business one. So don’t ask for guarantees. The message of these verses is to trust G-d and trust the relationship. Abraham, personally, grew into the relationship. G-d finally said, “ matzasi es levavo neeman lefanecho”.

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