אַחַ֣ר ׀ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה הָיָ֤ה דְבַר־ה’ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם בַּֽמַּחֲזֶ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר אַל־תִּירָ֣א אַבְרָ֗ם אָנֹכִי֙ מָגֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ שְׂכָרְךָ֖ הַרְבֵּ֥ה מְאֹֽד׃
After these events, the word of Hashem came to Avram in a vision saying “Don’t be afraid Avram, I am a shield for you, your reward shall be very great.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אַבְרָ֗ם אֲדֹנָ֤-י יֱ-הֹ-וִ-ה֙ מַה־תִּתֶּן־לִ֔י וְאָנֹכִ֖י הוֹלֵ֣ךְ עֲרִירִ֑י…..׃
Then Avram said, Hashem, what can You give to me, seeing that I go childless……
Imagine the following scenario. Your favorite niece’s birthday is today. You know she enjoys dolls, so you buy her a Raggedy Ann (I know I am dating myself here.) She opens it, smiles politely and says to you the following:
“You know, this doll is very nice but it would be hard to enjoy this without also having a Mr. Potato Head…” Sounds a bit ungrateful, no?
Now let’s take a look at an interaction between Hashem and Avraham Avinu in Parshas Lech Lecha.
After Avraham emerges victorious in the battle against the four kings, Hashem reassures Avraham that he has plenty still to look forward to saying “secharcha harbeh meod” (your reward will be very great.) Avraham responds saying, “Hashem Elokim Mah Titain Li” (Hashem, what can You give to me) “Yes, reward is great but I have no descendants to share it with!”
Avraham Avinu, the spiritual giant that he was, was definitely someone who was makir tov (appreciative). In fact, the entire reason that he felt the obligation to risk his life to save Lot, was because of his gratitude for Lot coming along with him on his journey from Ur Kasdim. (This is notwithstanding the fact that Lot gained much more by going with Avraham, than by Avraham having Lot around!)
So how could anyone - especially Avraham - respond to Hashem saying “Your reward for me is meaningless, since I am missing something else.”
Of course, Avraham appreciated all of Hashem’s blessings, but what Avraham wanted more than anything else was to express his gratitude to Hashem by serving Him and spreading His awareness to whomever he encountered. Avraham had spent decades in kiruv and in chinuch. However, when all was said and done, Avraham knew that the biggest impact he could make was with his own family. He therefore cried out in total sincerity to Hashem.
“Hashem, you do so much for me, I have so much blessing, I want to try to repay you so I need children!’
Baruch Hashem, we all have tremendous opportunities to inspire those around us, specifically our Jewish brothers and sisters. Palm Beach county has close to 200,000 Jews and the Jewish population of Boca Raton is around 40%. Next Shabbos is the International Shabbos Project Initiative, and there are beautiful opportunities in our community to reach out to our less affiliated neighbors and friends to experience Shabbos together. This week, however, let us focus on the lesson of Avraham Avinu. Our greatest gift and most treasured investment are our own children.
Wishing everyone a beautiful Shabbos,
Rabbi Binyomin Halpern