“And G-d said to Avram ‘Go forth from your native land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you’.” (Genesis 12:1)
Rashi’s commentary: “For your enjoyment and your benefit, etc., He did not reveal the land to him at once.”
Our father Abraham left and abandoned the world-view in which he was educated and raised, as Rashi says in 11:28 that Abraham destroyed his father Terach’s idols. And where did he go? To an unknown place through an unknown path, but he knew clearly: the idolatry on which he was raised and in which all the society around him believed was incorrect. Therefore he took action, destroyed the idols, and left his home and his birthplace for an unknown place.
The acts of the father are a sign for the sons. We must learn from our father Abraham the basic foundation, that without examining anew those things upon which we were raised, we will be as the masses who do not look and scrutinize their actions. As Rambam said in his introduction to Sefer HaMitzvot, “For this is the way of most of the meritorious people in our time, that we will not analyze what is said with our own eyes but through the lens of what the previous one said, without examining what the previous one said; how much more so the ignorant masses who do not check at all and accept all that is said.”
Do not belittle the conclusion of our father Abraham, since the fact that you reject idolatry and its false notions is considered as though you’d fulfilled the whole Torah. This is Rambam’s opinion in Moreh Nevuchim part three, chapter 29: “For our whole Torah, its roots and the axis upon which it turns, is to erase those ideas from hearts and the traces of those memories from reality, to erase them from hearts -‘lest your hearts be seduced, etc.,’ – and to erase them from reality -‘You shall tear down their altars, etc., cut down their sacred posts, etc’ And this was the primary intention which includes all of the Torah, as the sages OBM inform us in their accepted commentary to the saying of the Blessed One, ‘all that G-d commanded you through Moshe.’ They said that you learn there that all who accede to idolatry reject the whole Torah and all who reject idolatry accede to the whole Torah, (Sifri, Shlach, piska 5), and you — understand this.”
Woe to you if you should be as the masses, fools and ignoramuses, whose souls follow folly and are tied to folly, as Rambam wrote in Moreh Nevuchim, part three, chapter 29. Woe to you should you accept things without checking and examination and research and study, until they are reconciled to your satisfaction, as Rambam instructed. Reexamine all you were taught and instructed with no fear or favoritism, with intellectual honesty, and without fear.
Then you will be like our father Abraham who examined his father’s habits and furiously decided that there is a time when they must be broken and even fought to remove them from the earth. And the wise one will understand and will not be silent, for now is not the time to play deaf.
Words of True Knowledge
“And Avram passed through the land until the place of Shechem until Elon Moreh and the Canaanites were then in the land” (Genesis 12:6)
Ibn Ezra wrote, “There is a secret, and one who is wise will be silent.” To explicate Ibn Ezra’s opinion we will copy his words from the introduction to the commentary on the Torah. “My commentary is based on the fifth way, and it is honest in my eyes in the face of G-d whom alone I fear, and I will not show favoritism in the Torah, and I will seek well the grammar of each word with all my might and afterwards I will explain it as well as I can.”
These are his clear and brave words, that he explains the plain text of the Scripture, even if it contradicts the words of Chazal, as we have found in many places in his commentary, That is why he wrote that he feared Him (G-d) alone.
We will add and emphasize that we follow in his footsteps and this has been our way in explaining the Scripture. Remember this rule and do not forget it: the meaning of the Scripture must be known to us from the Scripture itself.
And we will return to Ibn Ezra’s secret, “and the Canaanites were then in the land.” The language shows that at the time of the writing of these words the Canaanites were not in the land, but then, during the time of Abraham, the Canaanites were. At the time of Moshe Rabbeynu the Canaanites were in the land, as the land had not yet been conquered by the Jews! So these words could not be written at the time of Moshe, but in a later period when the Canaanites were no longer in the Land of Israel. And this seems to be the period of the Kings, for about the time of Yehoshua it is said: “they imposed tribute on the Canaanites but they did not dispossess them” (Joshua, chapter 17). And even in the time of King David it is said (II Samuel 24:7), “And they went unto the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites”, and Radak comments, “All the towns of the Hivites and the Canaanites–in which Hivites and Canaanites lived with Jews, as the Jews had not dispossessed them.” This teaches us that the portion of Lech-Lecha was not written before the days of King Solomon and perhaps even later.
And so in verse 13:7, “And the Canaanites and Perisites were then in the land.”
And now we will bring a verse which clarifies this more and strengthens our words – chapter 14, verse 14, “When Abram heard that this kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering 318, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” In the book of Joshua 19:47, “So the Danites migrated and made war on Leshem. They captured it and put it to the sword; and they took possession of it and settled in it. And they changed the name of Leshem to Dan, after their ancestor Dan.” We see clearly from the Scriptural text that it was only in the days of Joshua that the place was named Dan and that at the time of Moshe it was still called Leshem. So wrote Radak and Chizkuni. This is another sign that the portion was not written during Moshe’s era.
We have not forgotten the Gemara in Ketubot 10a, that a widow (‘almanah’) is called so on the name of maneh – the money she gets at her marriage contract. The Gemara asks whether the Scriptures spoke in the terms of future, for in the time of Moshe there was no money called maneh, onlyshekel or gera. The Gemara contends: “Yes [the Scriptures spoke in the terms of future], for it is written, ‘the name of the third river is Chidekel, which goes east to Ashur.’ Rav Yosef said: Ashur is Seleucia, but did it exist at those times? [i.e. the city of Ashur did not exist in the time of Moshe, and see the Tosfot] But it was to come in the future.” That is, the Torah uses languages and coinage which will be struck in the future, even though it did not exist at the time of the Torah writing. So deeply has this belief become entrenched within the midst of faithful Jews that the Maharam of Lublin questions the words of the Gemara, “The Torah was written in Heaven two thousand years before the creation of the world. Therefore, one way or the other one must say it spoke in the terms of future.”
And we ask and wonder: G-d, who sees and looks at everything from the beginning of creation to its end, to whom all is known – why and wherefore did He speak of the future as though the future were only the period of the Bible and the Talmud? Nowhere is there even the slightest hint about the whole period following the time of the Talmud. Is not our time also “the future”? But neither Tel Aviv nor Haifa nor Tiberias nor Safed, neither the dollar nor the lira are mentioned. And one who understands will know and will not remain silent.
We will bring a boost for our words that it is impossible to suppose that the Torah would write in the language and terminology and the names of locations and places which did not yet exist at the time of its writing. Rambam, in the first root of Sefer HaMitzvot, came out against the count of commandments made by the author of “Halachot Gedolot,” who included lighting the Chanukah candles in the Torah’s 613 commandments. “And they counted the lights of Chanukah and the reading of the scroll [of Esther] as positive commandments, etc., while there are those who say that Moshe was told at Sinai to command us that at the end of the days of our sovereignty such and such will happen to us with the Greeks and we will be obligated to light the Chanukah candles, and I can not see that anyone would imagine so or think thus.”
Words of True Knowledge