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Lech Lecha 5760

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Usually I write upbeat, uplifting pieces. I don't think there is anyway that this week's edition can be seen as uplifting. Important, yes. Vital, yes! Uplifting ... no.

The Talmud says that the very throne of the Almighty sheds tears when a couple gets divorced. Yet, it is one of the 613 commandments of the Torah. (Understand that there are 613 commandments, but that some of the commandments are to be fulfilled only by certain people at certain times.) The Almighty is the ultimate realist. He gave us freewill and understands that not everyone will choose well -- or that not everyone will follow through on the commitment to work things out or make the best of the situation. Therefore, the Almighty includes a commandment to get divorced when it becomes a necessity.

Anyone who thinks about it will agree that parents love their children more than each other. A couple will divorce, but they will not divorce their children. As a matter of fact, most of the bitter fights in divorce are over the children. And ironically, it is the children -- who the parent loves more than his spouse -- who suffers most. Perhaps the parent really loves himself more than his child -- or, quite possibly, the parent is not really focussing on his priorities.

It infuriates me seeing children slaughtered on the altar of divorce! What can be done to help parents rise to their roles as parents at this very difficult time? Dade County (Florida) mandates that families attend the Sandcastles Divorce Therapy Program created by rabbi and psychologist, M. Gary Neuman. Fortunately, Rabbi Neuman has shared his wisdom with a wider audience in his book Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way.(The book is available at better bookstores everywhere or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. Also, you can get more information from

The book is a guide for parents to understand their children and to communicate with them the realities of divorce. Chapters include: Parenting After Divorce, How Children Experience Divorce, Understanding Children's Play and Art, How to Tell Your Child, When Parents Fight, When a Parent Moves Away, Custody and Visitation, Dealing with Divorce-Related Change, Your New Significant Other, The Stepfamily. There are chapters specifically regarding each child's age group.

There are also activities to help understand one's child and what's troubling him. For instance: Ask your child to create his own city where he makes all the rules. What would the rules be? Have the child name and design the city. The purpose of this imagination game is to allow children to rule their worlds and offer parent insights into what the child feesl is wrong or should be different. Often in the context of play, children will voice wishes and requests that they would never state directly. (In reading this book, I realized that one does not have to be divorced to benefit from many of the parent-child communication activities.)

We must love our children and give them every assistance towards self-esteem! Here's a beautiful summation I recently came across:

What you think of me,
I'll think of me.
And what I think of me ...
I'll be.

Portion of the Week
Lech Lecha

The Almighty commands Avram (later renamed Avraham) to leave Haran and go to the land of Canaan (later renamed the Land of Israel). The Almighty then gives Avram an eternal message to the Jewish people and to the nations of the world, "I will bless those who bless you and he who curses you I will curse." Finding a famine, Avram travels to Egypt (once renamed to be part of the United Arab Republic) asking Sarai (later renamed Sarah), to say she is his sister so they won't kill him to marry her (the Egyptians were particular not to commit adultery).

Pharaoh evicts Avram from Egypt after attempting to take Sarai for a wife. They settle in Hebron (also known as Kiryat Arba) and his nephew Lot settles in Sodom. Avram rescues Lot who was taken captive in the Battle of the Four Kings against the Five Kings.

Entering into a covenant with the Almighty (all covenants with the Almighty are eternal, never to be abrogated or replaced by new covenants), Avram is told that his descendants will be enslaved for 400 years and that his descendants (via Isaac, "... through Isaac will offspring be considered yours." Gen. 21:8) will be given the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." (I do not think that this part of the story made it into the Koran...)

Sarai, childless, gives her handmaid Hagar to Avram for a wife so that he will have children. Ishmael (the Alter Zeideh of our Arab cousins) is born. The covenant of brit mila, religious circumcision, is made (read 17:3-8), God changes their names to Avraham and Sarah and tells them that Sarah will give birth to Yitzhak (Isaac). Avraham circumcises all the males of his household.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding Avraham and his family, "They went to go to the Land of Canaan and they came to the Land of Canaan." (Genesis 12:5) Why does the Torah tells us "that they went to go" and that "they came" to the Land of Canaan?

When Avraham made-up his mind to travel to the Land of Canaan, he followed through on his plans and reached his destination. This stands in sharp contrast with Terach, Avraham's father, about whom we read in the Torah Portion of Noah (Genesis 11:31) that he started out to go to the Land of Canaan, but when he reached Charan in the midst of his journey, he settled there; he never made it to Canaan. This, said the Chofetz Chaim, is a lesson that we should learn from Avraham: If you accept upon yourself a goal to accomplish something, don't become sidetracked!

One must keep his eye on the goal -- to love God, to be happy, to have a happy marriage, to raise healthy, happy children; to live life with integrity. Don't be distracted by desires. People confuse "want" and "desire." The soul "wants," the body "desires." Go for the soul every time!

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