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Lech Lecha 5761

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Every person in this world is seeking pleasure. It is what motivates us. The problem is not that people seek pleasure. The Almighty created the world for our pleasure. The problem is that people are not aware that there is an hierarchy of pleasures and that there are counterfeit pleasures.

We often settle for lower levels of pleasures because we are not aware of what pleasure truly is or the higher levels of pleasures. It's kind of like going into an ice cream store and ordering plain vanilla every time because one never heard of a Banana Split -- three types of ice cream, two different coverings (hot fudge or caramel), whipping cream, sprinkles and ... a cherry on top.

Like all intelligent discussions, we must first start with a definition. Pleasure is the energy one derives from something that helps him have the power to grow, improve. There are different levels of pleasure -- each defined by its own currency (what it takes to acquire the pleasure) and each with its own counterfeits. There is no exchange rate between levels of pleasure.

If you ask a person, "What is the opposite of pain?" he usually responds, "Pleasure." Wrong! The opposite of pain is absence of pain -- or comfort. To equate comfort with pleasure is the definition of decadence.

Pain is the price one pays for pleasure. Whatever you have that you value, you value it more according to the effort, the trials and tribulations, the pain to acquire it. A "self-made" millionaire enjoys his money and values it more than the individual who inherits wealth. To succeed in the pursuit of pleasure, you have to focus on the goal and the pleasure of the effort you make to achieve it.

So, what are the Levels of Pleasure? (based on Sefer
HaChinuch, re: commandment of "Love of God")

  • FIFTH CLASS PLEASURE --physical and material pleasure. Good food, nice clothes, comfortable home, pleasant music, beautiful scenery. This includes anything that involves the "five senses."

  • FOURTH CLASS PLEASURE -- Love. No amount of 5th class pleasure can buy even one unit of love. Would you accept 25 million dollars in exchange for one of your children? People will sell everything they own and go into debt to save the life of a child. They'll give up all 5th Level Pleasures for 4th Level Pleasure.

  • THIRD CLASS PLEASURE -- being good and finding meaning. A person who is willing to give up everything he owns for 4th class pleasure will forego the pleasure of his family -- for a cause. In W.W.II people lied their way into the army knowing they were leaving their family for years and even possibly dying. Why? To save the world for humanity. To destroy the evil scourge. To make a difference in the world.

    If you don't know what you are willing to die for, then you haven't begun to live. Otherwise, you are merely playing a game. If you don't have meaning in your life, then all the physical enjoyments, the beautiful vacations and even the wonderful spouse and children, won't prevent you from feeling that something is missing.

  • SECOND CLASS PLEASURE -- the power of creativity, of perfecting the world, through wisdom, into an utopia. It's the pleasure of being aware of how much more there is to life.

    Why is creativity such a thrill? Because it touches the essence of God. The ultimate expression of creativity was God's creation of the world. He made something from absolutely nothing. Only an Infinite Being can do that. Expressing our own creativity is a taste of that power.

  • FIRST CLASS PLEASURE -- No human being is totally satisfied unless s/he's in touch with the Transcendental Dimension. When all is said and done, what we each seek is to reach out of this finite world and connect with the Infinite. To become one with God.

    Awe is the experience of merging our small, relatively insignificant selves with something much greater. We break beyond our own limitations and connect in unity with God. First class pleasure is incomparable to any other experience. Nothing finite, nothing bound up in this world, can compare to the Infinite.

    In order to connect with God, you have to learn to appreciate all the good that He has done for you. That means giving up the illusion that you alone are responsible for your achievements. It's all a gift from God. If you make the effort to appreciate the gifts God has bestowed upon you, then you'll have such a keen awareness of God's presence that everything you do is accompanied by a sense of His love and guidance. You'll be overwhelmed above and beyond any other pleasure possible.

There is much more to say about acquiring pleasure in life. Go to our webpage,, and in the Search box, type "pleasure." Check out "5 Levels of Pleasure" by Rabbi Weinberg from which this article is based upon and parts excerpted from. Aish also offers a seminar on acquiring pleasure, "Zenith Express." To arrange a seminar call 718-376-2775 or write

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 zedeh 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 Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "And He (Avram) relocated from there to the mountain in the east of Bait El and pitched his tent" (Genesis 12:8). The word for tent in Hebrew is "ohel"; "his tent" is "ohelo." Why does the Torah spell "his tent" with the feminine suffix, the letter "hai"?

The Midrash comments that this teaches us that Avram first pitched his wife's tent and then his own. From here we learn that when a husband needs to do something for himself and for his wife, he should take care of his wife's need first. Avram understood that there is a higher level of pleasure in honoring and helping his wife than in having his tent pitched first!

CANDLE LIGHTING - November 10:

Jerusalem  4:06
Chicago 4:16  Dallas 5:10  Guatemala 5:15
Hong Kong 5:26  Honolulu 5:33  J'Burg 6:12
London 4:01  Los Angeles 4:34  Melbourne 7:46
Miami 5:16  Montreal 4:11  Moscow 4:15

New York 4:24  Singapore 6:33  Toronto 4:38


Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure,
when he is really selling himself to it.
--  Benjamin Franklin

Dedicated by...

Ron and June Daniels
Mazal Tov on Your New Granddaughter
and Mazal Tov on Jeff's Engagement
with love,
the Simpsers & Des Moines Kollel

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