Jewish Spiritual Faith

There is a crucial lesson in spiritual faith (emuna) in the Parsha (Torah portion) of Lech Lecha. By understanding an enigmatic story in the Torah, we will see that the Avos (forefathers and mothers) lived with such a high level of emuna that their spiritual knowledge was as real to them as our physical knowledge is to us.

Spiritual Faith of the Avos

After passing the test of forsaking his birthplace and home, arriving in Eretz Kanaan, Avraham is tested by a famine and is forced to go to Egypt. On the way he asks Sarah to say that she is his sister so they don’t kill him to get her.

Sarah does this and is taken to Paroh for a wife. Paroh and his household become terribly sick in the reproductive organs, realise it is because of Sarah and return her, admonishing Avraham

How could Avraham risk the life of Sarah for his own? How could they agree to enter a situation of arayos (forbidden relations,a married woman living with someone else when this is one of the three cardinal mitzvos (commandments) for which one is obligated to give their life rather than transgressing?

The Gemora (Baba Kama 50a) relates an incident of Nechunya who dug wells for people making aliyas heregel (pilgrimage) to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem.)

One day his daughter fell in a well. They came to Rebi Chanina Ben Dosa to tell him and he said it’s fine, the second hour he said the same and the third hour he said she has come out.

When asked how he knew she would be saved, Rebbi Chanina said that something which the tzaddik (righteous individual) had pained over to such a degree could not harm his children.

Rebbi Chanina is thus defining a concrete formula in spiritual faith.

Through this we can understand how Avraham and Sarah could do what they did. We see previously, that Sarah had been so alacritous in modesty that Avraham had only recognized how beautiful she was then (in her old age.)

So, having been so committed to this mitzvah, no damage could come to her in this area. This was as much of a reality to Avraham and Sarah as the laws of gravity are to us. As Rashi explains, Sarah said to the maleach (angel) strike and he struck.

Thus the end of the Nechunya story when they asked his daughter who saved her, she said an old ram passed by led by a Zakken (an elder) and Rashi explains it was the ram of Yitzchok led by Avraham.

Avraham is the source for understanding this concept and so it is he that saved Nechunya’s daughter. Perhaps one can go further and say that Avraham (and Sarah) actually  inculcated this law of spiritual nature in the universe.


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