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Parshas Lech Lecha - Walking Ahead

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was. 

Imagine you are a hiking in a difficult terrain and it is dark and slippery with potholes all around. And then your guide who you have been following faithfully says to you ‘go on ahead veer to the left and find your way’.  It probably wouldn’t be that easy to listen to him…

We can now appreciate what the Pasuk tells us concerning Avraham.

It states that Hashem said to Avraham, ‘walk in front of me and be tamim [complete].’

Concerning Noach it says that Noach walked after G-d; meaning G-d lead the way and Noach followed. Avraham was on a higher level and hence he was asked to walk in front of G-d; which means to do what he thinks G-d wants even when it is unclear, confusing, and bewildering. This I suggest is the simple understanding of ‘walk in front of me’.

What do the next words, ‘and be tamim’ mean?

Completeness, faithfulness, wholesomeness, and simplicity are all adjectives that together, I think, define the word tamim. A Tam is someone who doesn’t ask questions. A tam is somebody with no self-interest. A tam is somebody who just does what is supposed to be done.

Sometimes knowing what the right approach in life is can be confusing. A Tam is someone who will ask his mentor what the right thing to do is and then will do it even if it doesn’t make sense to him.

With this we can appreciate the statement of the Zohar that states, ‘one who is not a tam in this world walks in front of Hashem in the next world and doesn’t get to look at Hashem [kivayachol], whereas a tam, in the next world, walks behind Hashem and gets to look at Hashem.’ I believe it is mida kineged mida. If we walk in front of Hashem in THIS world, we will have the pleasure and merit of walking behind Hashem and be able to see Hashem in the next world. Whereas if we are not strong enough to walk in front of Hashem in this world, we will have to walk in front of him in the next world and won’t be able to look at Hashem and derive the immense pleasure from His radiance.

May we all try to follow in the ways of Avraham Avinu, to get guidance on whatever issues we are confused about and then just listen to our Rebbi or mentor even when it seems troubling, misguiding, and confusing. We will then in our own small way be ‘walking in front of Hashem and be Tamim.’

What Types of Oil?

All (types) of oil are valid for the Hanukah lights.  However, the commandment is best carried out using olive oil,  just like the miracle in the Temple that was with olive oil.  If (olive oil) is not available,  one should choose any oil that gives a pure and clean light,  or wax candles that also give a pure light.  Two (candles) should not be joined together because this resembles a torch (or fire),  rather each candle should be separate.  One should not use (candles) from idol worshippers temples,  because (these) are considered repulsive (disgusting).  Similarly, all kinds of wicks are valid for the Hanukah light,  (but) the preferable way to carry out the commandment is with cotton (wicks).  One does not need new wicks each night,  but can relight the original ones until they are burnt up. (KSA 139:4)