GrowTorah Core Value: Incubating Emunah

Lesson Title: Finding Faith in the Land

Hashem calls to Avram and tells him to go to Cana'an. Avram follows the voice of Hashem and starts the journey with Sarai and Lot. After journeying through the Egypt Avram and Sarai's household arrives in Cana'an, where Hagar and Avram have a son named Ishmael. Afterwords, Avram enters a brit with Hashem and his name is changed to Avraham, and Sarai's to Sarah.

(א) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃

(1) The LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

(א) וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וגו' (בראשית יב, א), רַבִּי יִצְחָק פָּתַח (תהלים מה, יא): שִׁמְעִי בַת וּרְאִי וְהַטִּי אָזְנֵךְ וְשִׁכְחִי עַמֵּךְ וּבֵית אָבִיךְ, אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק מָשָׁל לְאֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה עוֹבֵר מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם, וְרָאָה בִּירָה אַחַת דּוֹלֶקֶת, אָמַר תֹּאמַר שֶׁהַבִּירָה הַזּוֹ בְּלֹא מַנְהִיג, הֵצִיץ עָלָיו בַּעַל הַבִּירָה, אָמַר לוֹ אֲנִי הוּא בַּעַל הַבִּירָה. כָּךְ לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה אָבִינוּ אַבְרָהָם אוֹמֵר תֹּאמַר שֶׁהָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּלֹא מַנְהִיג, הֵצִיץ עָלָיו הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְאָמַר לוֹ אֲנִי הוּא בַּעַל הָעוֹלָם. (תהלים מה, יב): וְיִתְאָו הַמֶּלֶךְ יָפְיֵךְ כִּי הוּא אֲדֹנַיִךְ. וְיִתְאָו הַמֶּלֶךְ יָפְיֵךְ, לְיַפּוֹתֵךְ בָּעוֹלָם, (תהלים מה, יב): וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִי לוֹ, הֱוֵי וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל אַבְרָם.

(1) (1) YHVH said to Abram, "Go you forth from your land…" … Rabbi Yitzchak said: this may be compared to a man who was traveling from place to place when he saw a bira doleket/castle aglow/lit up (full of light/in flames). He said, "Is it possible that this castle lacks a person to look after it? The owner of the building looked out and said, “I am the owner of the castle.” Similarly, because Abraham our father said, “Is it possible that this castle has no guide, no one to look after it?," the Holy Blessed One looked out and said to him, “I am the Master of the Universe.” … Hence, God said to Avraham, Lech Lecha.

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

Why was Avraham worthy of receiving Hashem's command?

  • looking for God everywhere, asking questions

How do you think Avraham would look at our garden?

  • how does God relate to our work in the garden?

(ח) וְנָתַתִּ֣י לְ֠ךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ֨ אַחֲרֶ֜יךָ אֵ֣ת ׀ אֶ֣רֶץ מְגֻרֶ֗יךָ אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן לַאֲחֻזַּ֖ת עוֹלָ֑ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָהֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִֽים׃

(8) I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God.”

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

Why do you think faith and land are mentioned in the same verse?

  • God allows the land to prosper, agriculture as a mixture of our work and God's work

(א) ונתתי, עד שאתן לך ולזרעך אחריך את כל ארץ כנען לאחוזת עולם, ששם אחוזה מציין שאוחז ומחזיק בארץ ומשתמש בה, כי תחלה נתן לו את הארץ לרשתה ר"ל שיהיה שלו ע"י ההבטחה, אבל לא אחזו בה, כמי שיש לו מתנה במדינת הים שהוא לו מתנה וירושה ואינה אחוזה כי לא החזיק בה, אבל בעת שיהיו לאחוזה שהוא אחר שבאו אל הארץ מאז והייתי להם לאלהים, יזכו הם עצמם שאהיה להם לאלהים מצד עצמם ולא מצד אלהות של האבות, כי מאז יהיו ראוים בעצמם אל הענין האלהי, וה' יקרא אלהי ישראל מצד קדושתם וצדקתם:

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

What will Avraham's descendants have that he lacks?

  • land, God of a nation as opposed to an individual

How does this source help explain the connection between land and faith of the verse above?

  • connection between God of a nation and the ability to utilize more land

How can we apply this connection to our own gardens, which we ourselves tend?

  • how does teamwork and multiple people/classes using the garden make both the garden and community stronger?

Living the Lesson

(ב) וְהֵיאַךְ הִיא הַדֶּרֶךְ לְאַהֲבָתוֹ וְיִרְאָתוֹ. בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁיִּתְבּוֹנֵן הָאָדָם בְּמַעֲשָׂיו וּבְרוּאָיו הַנִּפְלָאִים הַגְּדוֹלִים וְיִרְאֶה מֵהֶן חָכְמָתוֹ שֶׁאֵין לָהּ עֵרֶךְ וְלֹא קֵץ מִיָּד הוּא אוֹהֵב וּמְשַׁבֵּחַ וּמְפָאֵר וּמִתְאַוֶּה תַּאֲוָה גְּדוֹלָה לֵידַע הַשֵּׁם הַגָּדוֹל. כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד (תהילים מב ג) "צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹהִים לְאֵל חָי". וּכְשֶׁמְּחַשֵּׁב בַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ עַצְמָן מִיָּד הוּא נִרְתָּע לַאֲחוֹרָיו וִיפַחֵד וְיוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהוּא בְּרִיָּה קְטַנָּה שְׁפָלָה אֲפֵלָה עוֹמֶדֶת בְּדַעַת קַלָּה מְעוּטָה לִפְנֵי תְּמִים דֵּעוֹת. כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד (תהילים ח ד) "כִּי אֶרְאֶה שָׁמֶיךָ מַעֲשֵׂי אֶצְבְּעֹתֶיךָ" (תהילים ח ה) "מָה אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי תִזְכְּרֶנּוּ". וּלְפִי הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ אֲנִי מְבָאֵר כְּלָלִים גְּדוֹלִים מִמַּעֲשֵׂה רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ פֶּתַח לַמֵּבִין לֶאֱהֹב אֶת הַשֵּׁם. כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים בְּעִנְיַן אַהֲבָה שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ כָּךְ אַתָּה מַכִּיר אֶת מִי שֶׁאָמַר וְהָיָה הָעוֹלָם:

(2) But how may one discover the way to love and fear Him? When man will reflect concerning His works, and His great and wonderful creatures,1But he must make thorough study. C. and will behold through them His wonderful, matchless and infinite wisdom, he will spontaneously be filled with love, praise and exaltation and become possessed of a great longing to know the Great Name, even as David said: "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God," (Ps. 42,2); and when he will think of all these matters,2Sifre, Deut. 6.5; Shabbat, 30–31. G. he will be taken aback in a moment and stricken with awe, and realize that he is an infinitesimal creature, humble and dark, standing with an insignificant and slight knowledge in the presence of the All Wise, as David said: "For when I see Thy heavens, the wonderful works of Thy fingers, of what use is man that Thou mayest remember him?" (Ibid. 8,4). And, in harmony with these matters, I elucidate great, general principles of the works of the Lord of the universe, so that they might serve as an opening for one who understands by which to love the Name, as some sages said on the subject of love: "Out of it thou wilt recognize the One who spoke, and the universe was called into existence."

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

Can Hashem's works only be appreciated in vast displays of nature?

How can we see Hashem's "wonderful, matchless and infinite wisdom" in our own gardens?

GrowTorah Core Value: Reimagining Tzedakah

Lesson Title: Torn Over Territory - Lot and Avraham's Ideological Quarrel

(ה) וְגַם־לְל֔וֹט הַהֹלֵ֖ךְ אֶת־אַבְרָ֑ם הָיָ֥ה צֹאן־וּבָקָ֖ר וְאֹהָלִֽים׃ (ו) וְלֹא־נָשָׂ֥א אֹתָ֛ם הָאָ֖רֶץ לָשֶׁ֣בֶת יַחְדָּ֑ו כִּֽי־הָיָ֤ה רְכוּשָׁם֙ רָ֔ב וְלֹ֥א יָֽכְל֖וּ לָשֶׁ֥בֶת יַחְדָּֽו׃ (ז) וַֽיְהִי־רִ֗יב בֵּ֚ין רֹעֵ֣י מִקְנֵֽה־אַבְרָ֔ם וּבֵ֖ין רֹעֵ֣י מִקְנֵה־ל֑וֹט וְהַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ וְהַפְּרִזִּ֔י אָ֖ז יֹשֵׁ֥ב בָּאָֽרֶץ׃
(5) Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, (6) so that the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were so great that they could not remain together. (7) And there was quarreling between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and those of Lot’s cattle.—The Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land.—

(ב) ולא נשא אותם הארץ, וזה היה משני טעמים א] כי היה רכושם רב וצר להם המקום ב] ולא יכלו לשבת יחדו, כי לוט התחיל להתפרד מדעות אברהם וממנהגיו, וזה עורר שנאה ביניהם בלב, וכמ"ש שנאה תעורר מדנים, כי האחים והקרובים ימחלו זל"ז על נזקי שכנים ולא ירע בעיניהם זב"ז, רק אם יש שנאה ביניהם תצמיח ריב ומדון, וכן היה פה שע"י שנעשה קצת שנאה ביניהם צר להם המקום והקפידו זע"ז

(2) The land was unable to support them. This was for two reasons: 1) There was insufficient room for their great wealth. 2) Lot had begun to deviate from Avraham’s ways, which is why they were unable to dwell together.

(א) ויהי ריב. לְפִי שְׁהָיוּ רוֹעִים שֶׁל לוֹט רְשָׁעִים וּמַרְעִים בְּהֶמְתָּם בִּשְׂדוֹת אֲחֵרִים, וְרוֹעֵי אַבְרָם מוֹכִיחִים אוֹתָם עַל הַגֶּזֶל, וְהֵם אוֹמְרִים נִתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ לְאַבְרָם, וְלוֹ אֵין יוֹרֵשׁ, וְלוֹט יוֹרְשׁוֹ, וְאֵין זֶה גֶּזֶל, וְהַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי אָז יֹשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ, וְלֹא זָכָה בָהּ אַבְרָם עֲדַיִן (ב"):
(1) ויהי ריב AND THERE WAS A QUARREL because Lot’s shepherds were wicked men and grazed their cattle in other people’s fields. Abram's shepherds rebuked them for this act of robbery, but they replied, “The land has been given to Abram, and since he has no son as heir, Lot will be his heir: consequently this is not robbery”. Scripture, however, states: “The Canaanite and the Perizzite abode then in the land”, so that Abram was not yet entitled to possession (Genesis Rabbah 41:5).

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

How do Avraham and Lot think differently about ownership and land?

  • being considerate of others

Which perspective do you think applies best to the management of our own garden?

  • sharing when possible, respect other boundaries; only plant where we are allowed

Living the Lesson

רב ורבי חנינא ורבי יוחנן ורב חביבא מתנו... כל מי שאפשר למחות לאנשי ביתו ולא מיחה נתפס על אנשי ביתו באנשי עירו נתפס על אנשי עירו בכל העולם כולו נתפס על כל העולם כולו

It was related that Rav, and Rabbi Ḥanina, and Rabbi Yoḥanan, and Rav Ḥaviva taught the statement cited below... Anyone who had the capability to effectively protest the sinful conduct of the members of his household and did not protest, he himself is apprehended for the sins of the members of his household and punished. If he is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the people of his town, and he fails to do so, he is apprehended for the sins of the people of his town. If he is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the whole world, and he fails to do so, he is apprehended for the sins of the whole world.

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

What levels of our community are we serving through our garden work?

  • what additional levels can we add that were not explicitly mentioned in Shabbat
  • how is our garden helping the whole world?

What levels do we have potential, and therefore responsibility, to serve?

  • what does responsibility towards each level look like?