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Parshas Lech Lecha: The Real Test
A Weekly Shtikle Mazal Tov to my cousin Menachem Seliger of London on his marriage to Malkah Levinson of Manchester today. Mazal Tov to the ganse mishapachah.
Last week, when I quoted R' Ephraim Eisenberg, z"l, unbeknownst to me, a neighbour of mine had just that morning named a son after him. So, now that I know, I will quote him once again.
This week's parsha begins with Avraham, (then known as Avram), being commanded to leave his homeland to a "land to be named later." This is one of the ten tests which Avraham faced throughout his life. R' Ephraim Eisenberg, z"l, in the name of his father-in-law R' Mordechai Gifter, z"l, asks a rather simple question. Leaving one's homeland to an unknown destination is indeed a difficult venture and worthy of note. But surely it pales in comparison to the challenge that Avram faced in Ur Kasdim where he entered a burning furnace rather than give up his belief in HaShem. Why does the move from Charan get explicit attention while the experience at Ur Kasdim is barely hinted to?
Ramban (46:15) deals specifically with the omission of the Ur Kasdim episode, despite the great miracle that occurred there. He writes that only miracles which are predicted by prophets are recorded in the Torah. R' Gifter addresses the difference between Ur Kasdim and lech lecha. He says that if one truly and absolutely embraces a certain set of beliefs, it is easily possible to make this belief such an integral part of one's being that he will sacrifice his life in defense of it. As noble as martyrdom is, to the martyr, it is almost logical. Today, we are unfortunately all too familiar with a perverted version of this reality. To Avraham, belief in HaShem was so essential to his existence that giving his life for it came almost naturally. Leaving his home, however, is something that Avraham did not quite comprehend. After all, he did not even know where he was going. This was not something that came naturally to him. It was therefore a more clear demonstration of Avraham's absolute dedication to HaShem's every command, much like the test of akeidas Yitzchak.
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)