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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Lech Lecha: 3 and 1

ואעשך לגוי גדול וגו' והיה ברכה
פסחים קיז: אמר רב שמעון בן לקיש 'ואעשך לגוי גדול' זהו שאומרים אלקי אברהם. 'ואברכך' זהו שאומרים אלקי יצחק. 'ואגדלה שמך' זהו שאומרים אלקי יעקב. יכול יהו חותמין בכולן, תלמוד לומר 'והיה ברכה' בך חותמין ואין חותמין בכולן, ע"כ

The Gemara in Meseches Pesachim states in the name of Rav Shimon ben Lakish; “this that it says, ‘I will make you a great nation’ refers to the fact that we begin our prayers with the statement ‘the G-d of Avraham’. And this that it states, ‘and I will bless you’ refers to our mention of ‘the G-d of Yitzchok’. And finally, when Hashem says I will make your name great, this refers to ‘the G-d of Yaakov’. Perhaps we should conclude the blessing again by mention all three, to this it says, ‘and you shall be a blessing’ meaning we shall end the blessing only by mentioning Avraham.

Rav Schwab zt”l sees in this message an important idea for us all:

Our lives, and our daily service of Hashem has two components. First, we have the mesorah; the tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. We are not permitted to innovate or devise our own way of serving Hashem. Our job is to follow in the ways of our fore-fathers, and to ensure that our children do the same.

On the other hand, and at the same time, each of our Avodos differ; we each have our own challenges, our own talents, and our own mission in life; we are equally not permitted to merely ‘go with the flow’ and just coast along with everyone else. We must find and identify our unique strengths, and develop our own potential. In this sense, we must each look at ourselves as if we are all, ‘firsts’.

This is how we begin our daily prayer: first by humbly acknowledging our great forefathers, and crediting them with the mesorah we must follow, but then by concluding our blessing with ‘G-d of Avraham’- just as Avraham was the first to discover Hashem and find the path to serving Him, so too, must we all, approach our Avodah with a freshness and excitement that we are all firsts; we each have something unique to contribute, that never was and will never again be.

May we all merit to reach our own unique potentials, and serve Hashem with all our heart and all our might!

Have a wonderful Shabbos.

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