Parshas Chayei Sarah – HaShem Blessed Avraham with Everything

By Avner Friedmann

The Parsha states[1]: “Now Avraham was old, well on in years, and HaShem had blessed Avraham with everything.” HaShem loved Avraham and blessed him with riches, honor, longevity, children, a good name and fame. Nonetheless, the word “everything” means more than that; ultimately it refers to the spiritual blessings that were poured upon Avraham. Our Sages taught[2] that as a result of Avraham passing ten life tests, HaShem blessed him with the ability to overcome and transform his evil inclination (The Yetzer HaRa), in a way that was far beyond his natural, inborn abilities.

The Sages refer to a spiritual level that only rare individuals achieve. A level in which not only is the Yetzer HaRa under control, but more so, its strong drive is channeled completely for good and thereby transformed into a positive, G-dly force. In this state, even the animal soul takes tremendous pleasure in pursuing goodness and G-dliness, instead of the physical lusts and pleasures of this world.

This is the meaning of the verse in Shema, which we recite twice daily, “You shall love HaShem your G-d with all your heart etc.”[3]  The word “your heart” is written here with two Beit letters, indicating that we are to love HaShem with both the Yetzer HaRa, and the Yetzer Tov (The Good Inclination).[4]

Avraham reached this high spiritual level through passing all the challenges that HaShem tested him with. This principle also holds true regarding Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef and Moshe, as well as other great tzadikim throughout the generations. They were granted spiritual blessings as a consequence of passing their own personal trials and tribulations.

Now, even though we may not be anywhere close to Avraham’s tremendous level of spirituality, nevertheless, just like Avraham, we too go through many trials and tribulations in our lives, as it is written[5]: “For HaShem, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HaShem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The Holy Baal Shem Tov[6] taught[7] that this world is called the world of trials. The purpose of the Jewish soul is to come down to this lowly world, to go through challenges and overcome them. These challenges test a person throughout his lifetime and are tailor-made specifically for him, for the purpose of bringing about spiritual correction and growth.

A test of this type may seem to be as difficult as scaling a very high, steep mountain. The difficulty seems almost insurmountable. However, if we realize that HaShem is testing and watching us, and that He never gives us more than we can take, this will provide us with the fortitude to meet the challenge and overcome all adversity, as our Sages stated[8], “According to the strength of the camel is the load.”

There are two types of reactions to these tests:

a)     As a victim. This can arouse feelings of resentment. It can lead to blaming others, blaming the circumstances, questioning “Why me?” etc., or rationalizing and justifying wrong feelings and wrong behavior.

b)    Being cognizant that it is a test from HaShem and accepting it with love and emunah (faith), trying to understand the message in it and using the situation as a spring board for greater spiritual growth and discovery.

The word for “trial” in Lashon HaKodesh (Biblical Hebrew) is ‘nisayon,’ (נסיון) which is related to the word (נס), meaning “miracle”. This is because when we pass the test successfully, it miraculously elevates us to a higher level. These Divine tests make it possible for us to realize our full spiritual potential and actualize it. Ultimately, this is what determines our spiritual level and closeness to HaShem. Because Avraham successfully passed his trials, we, as his decedents, have inherited the potential to do likewise.

When we honestly look back at positive changes that have taken place in our lives, more often than not, we will find that the positive outcomes usually came about as the direct result of some kind of challenge or test. Without the challenge, there would have been no real growth. Rather, these challenges are for our benefit, and are often a wake up call from HaShem. Through this we experience HaShem’s personal supervision and love.[9] Passing trials successfully is what ultimately reveals our true faith and love of HaShem. May it be that we pass the challenges of this generation with flying colors, and merit witnessing the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Moshiach. Amen.

 

 


[1] Bereshit 24:1.

[2] Bereshit Rava 59:7.

[3] Devarim 6:5.

[4] Berachot 54a.

[5] Re’e 13:4.

[6] The founder of the Chasidut movement.

[7] Brought by Netivot Shalom, Vayeira.

[8] Ketubot 67a.

[9] Netivot Shalom.

 

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