Lech Lecha: Decisions of a True Leader
Abraham's bold new way of thinking became the template for the decision-making process of our true leaders; may President-elect Trump follow in this path...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
"And Abram heard that his brother was captured...and he struck them and pursued them until Chova." (Genesis 14:14-15)
Our holy patriarch Abraham, the embodiment of charity and loving-kindness, appears in this week's Torah portion as a bold and valiant warrior who fearlessly confronts an enemy of far greater strength and numbers. Abraham's agile mobilization seems odd: why does he decide to embark on a perilous mission against the combined armies of the four evil kings led by Nimrod (Amraphel) to save his nephew Lot? Yet, when Nimrod threw Abraham into a fiery furnace, he didn't lift a finger to save himself. Lot was far from righteous, yet Abraham goes on a dangerous rescue mission to save him. Even though the entire future of monotheism and the Jewish People depend on him, he doesn't resist Nimrod when he could have easily overcome him. Why?
Let's remember that Abraham was a bone in the throat of the four evil kings. His "emuna outreach" dissemination of faith and truth was threatening to undermine their tyrannical and idolatrous regimes. According to the Zohar (Lech Lecha, pg. 86), they planned the abduction of Lot in order to drag the peace-loving Abraham into a war, for they were sure that they would overcome him and thereby obliterate the threat against them.
One sole factor motivated our forefather Abraham – kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Almighty's Holy Name on the widest possible scale. When Abraham was tried for destroying idols and sentenced to burn in a fiery furnace, he understood that resisting Nimrod would serve no purpose. Indeed, he was more than willing to sanctify Hashem's Name and to set an example for posterity of total and unflinching dedication to his faith. Abraham's willingness to burn rather than compromise his belief was a monumental precedent that made a tremendous impression both far and wide.
Conversely, Abraham went to war to save Lot for to prevent the desecration of Hashem's Name. How? The holy Zohar explains that Lot looked exactly like Abraham, his father's brother. With this in mind, Abraham feared that the four evil kings would parade Lot around in public and say that they had captured Abraham, declaring that they were mightier than Abraham's G-d. This would have been a heinous chilul Hashem, defamation of Hashem's Name. The "Yalkut Me'am Loez" in the name of the "Tzror Hamor" writes that their planned propaganda was to say that yes, Hashem has the power of rescuing Abraham from the fiery furnace and from one king, but He doesn't have the power of rescuing Abraham from the combined armies of the four kings. This of course would be a terrible blemish on Hashem's name that would discourage the masses from accepting monotheism and believing in Hashem only, as Abraham preached.
Had Abraham relied on human intellect and apparently logical considerations, he might have made completely opposite decisions. From one standpoint, he could have told himself that if he doesn't stay alive to spread emuna- the faith in the One true G-d - then there would be no one to replace him. Such thinking would have spurred him to resist Nimrod by all possible means, doing his utmost to survive and avoid being thrown into the fiery furnace. The same line of thinking would have deterred him from entering into a war with the four kings to save Lot. Lot had anyway drifted far from the path of righteousness for a long time already, especially since he left his uncle and moved to Sodom. Lot willfully chose to live among the most evil people on earth. Abraham could have told himself that his entire global emuna outreach program wasn't worth jeopardizing to save his errant nephew. Again, who would continue Abraham's holy mission if he got killed in battle? The risk would be enormous and Abraham had every rational reason to avoid such peril.
We can now see the prodigious and revolutionary new way of thinking that Abraham introduced to the world. In his "emuna" mode of thought, Abraham cast all intellect and human logic aside. He was utterly devoid of self-interest or any personal considerations. He relied neither on conventional strategies nor on conventional weaponry. The sole factor that weighed in his decision-making process was promoting the sanctification of Hashem's Name as opposed to preventing the defamation of His holy Name.
Our forefather Abraham's type of decision-making became the template for all the subsequent true leaders of our people, from Moses to King David and down to the Chafetz Chaim, all of saintly and blessed memory. Rest assured that Moshiach will make his decisions in the same way, for emuna transcends far beyond logic and intellect.
In the meanwhile, until Moshiach comes, we pray that Hashem will give President Donald Trump the courage and wisdom to make decisions the way our forefather Abraham did. If he walks the path of Hashem's will, then G-d will surely bless America!
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.