Lech Lecha - Debt

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One cold winter night a fire broke out in the house of a particular Chasid, running out of his house half asleep he was greeted by his neighbors who all were weary eyed, woken up by the yells of “Fire Fire” ringing out in the streets. This Chasid with only the clothes on his back watched with his neighbors as his house, all his possessions, were coming to an end before his eyes. He went over to a neighbor and asked to borrow a bottle of Vodka, he poured himself a big cup and on the top of his lungs he scream out “Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Shelo Asani Goy – Thank you God, master of the world, for not making me a non-Jew.”, after drinking his cup, and pouring some for his confused neighbors he began to dance with tremendous joy. This made people think he lost his mind. Soon the confused villagers got their answer for this Chasids strange behavior, he said, “If I were not Jewish then not only would all my possessions be burning and gone, so would my god; my idols – but our God, He is always with us – in every situation Hashem is by our side and nothing can separate us from our God.”

Rashi tells us that on his way back from Mitzrayim Avraham paid back the debts he incurred on his way to Mitzrayim. (Rashi on 13:3)

Could it be that Avraham was so low on funds that he had to beg his way down to Egypt? And even still, what crazy innkeeper would lend money to a random traveler forced out of his land because of a famine? Rav Yechezkel of Kazimir explains that Avrahams debts were not actually financial debts. Wherever Avraham went he would be spreading the good word of God. Teaching those around him about the greatness of The One True God Who everyone should be serving. Doing so, many people converted but many more couldn’t help but be skeptical. All they had to do was take one look at Avraham: How is it possible that someone who claims to be a servant of The One True God, The God of all the world, be exiled from the land that God promised him and his descendants? A land now stricken with a terrible famine, to head for the greener pastures of Egypt, a land known for being far from the Holy teachings of Avraham?

What type of God does that to his faithful servants?

And Avraham did not have an answer to these questions. In truth all the suffering that Avraham was experiencing was to test him, yet at that point Avraham did not see his reward on the horizon. These were his debts, he owed an answer to these skeptics that he did not know yet, but Avraham had faith. Faith that in due time Hashem would fulfill all of His promises. And we see that by the time Avraham left Egypt he was tremendously wealthy, traveling now with herds of cattle and wagons of silver and gold. Now he was able to “repay his debts”, now he could answer those questions and display the results of faith in Hashem.

We must have faith like our Great Forefather Avraham that even through the worst situations; being forced out of our home, being put into a place of negativity and impurity simply to live another day, it is all in order to test us. These debts will be repaid through the faith we have in Hashem that it is all for him – for God is always with us and nothing can separate us from Him.