Simcha's Torah Stories - Lech Lecha

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Parshat Lech Lecha


Chaim, why are you all dressed up?

I am going to a Bar Mitzvah.

Really? Who is the Bar Mitzvah boy?

My third cousin, Shimon.

Iíll bet you are excited.

Do you want to know the truth Avi?

Of course, Chaim. I always want to know the truth.

I hardly know my third cousin Shimon. We have practically nothing in common. I feel that I will be so bored there. I would rather stay home and play with my friends than go to this Bar Mitzvah.

But he is part of your family, Chaim.

I know Avi. But whatís so special about family after all. We have family, friends, neighbors, classmates. They are all good people. Why should we make a fuss over family?

Good question Chaim. When we are faced with questions like this, we usually try to look for a precedent from our forefathers and ancestors, the spiritual giants of past generations. How did they relate to family?

Is there such a precedent Avi?

There surely is Chaim. It is in this weekís Torah portion. Lot was the nephew of Avraham Avinu, our father Abraham. Lot lived in the city of Sodom. The city was part of a coalition of five kingdoms which banded together to increase their military strength. Four kings attacked them. The four kings defeated the five kings and Avrahamís nephew Lot was among the captive prisoners. What do you suppose Avraham Avinu did Chaim?

I know what you are going to say Avi. He went to rescue his nephew.

Exactly, Chaim. There were no Jewish lobbying groups in those days to defend the rights of our brethren. Avraham Avinu and his household were the only address. Although he encouraged them all to come along to free Lot, only Eliezer went with him. Try to imagine the scenario. A coalition of four kings which was so powerful that they were able to defeat an army larger then themselves was holding Lot captive. Two lonely people went to fight this army. They put themselves into mortal danger, a situation of almost certain death, to save a family member.

That is pretty amazing.

Rabbi Yishaya HaLevi Horwitz who is known by the name of the book he wrote, "Shnei Luchos HaBris" (or the abbreviated form - "Shelah") writes as follows. It is a mitzvah for a person to strengthen family ties to the best of his ability. We learn this from Avraham Avinu who put his life in danger for Lot. There it is Chaim. Avraham Avinu teaches us the importance of strengthening family ties.

Well, you have really opened my eyes Avi. Shimon is my third cousin. He is family. I have a mitzvah to be with him on this happy occasion of his Bar Mitzvah because it will strengthen our family ties. If Avraham Avinu can put his life in danger for family, I can certainly go to a Bar Mitzvah.

Now youíve got it, Chaim.

Avi, I am going to see to it that our family tree has deep roots, a strong trunk, and many, many branches.

Thatís what family is for.

Simcha's Quiz

An old nursery rhyme starts: "Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar..." Let us find out from the following statements, of which only one is true:

ANN: Harry stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

HARRY: Fred stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

LISA: Who me?-can't be.

FRED: Harry is lying when he says that I stole the cookie.

Answer to Last Week's Question


You are given 10 baskets. 9 of the baskets each have 10 balls weighing 10 kg per ball, however one basket has 10 balls weighing 9 kg each. All the balls and baskets are identical in appearance. You are asked to determine which basket contains the 9 kg balls. You have a suitable scale, but may only take a single measurement. No other measurements may be taken (like trying to determine by hand). You may remove balls from the baskets but may still only take one measurement.

How do you do it?

The Answer!

Mark the baskets or line them up. Take one ball from the first basket, two balls from the second, three balls from the third etc. Put them all on the scale. Their mass should add up to 10+20+30+...+100=550kg. Subtract the mass you get from 550 and you get the basket they're in! eg. If the 9kg balls are in basket 6, the scale will read 10+...+50+54+70+...+100=544kg. 550-544=6.

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