Lech-Lecha: Why Is a Jewish Lifestyle so Expensive?

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Not long ago, we each purchased a Lulav and Etrog set for Sukkos for a tidy sum. A pair of Tefillin is even more costly, and to send a child to a Jewish school you need to open a savings account. Why must things be this way?

Lesson Contents:

A. INFUSING PHYSICALITY WITH G-DLINESS

At the end of this week’s Torah portion, we read that G d commanded Avraham to circumcise himself (Source 1). The Talmud relates that Avraham fulfilled the entire Torah before it was given (Source 2). If so, what sets circumcision apart?

The Rebbe explains that unlike the mitzvot we do today, which permeate physicality, the mitzvot fulfilled by our forefathers remained abstract from the world. However, our ability to perform mitzvot that affect the world comes from our forefathers. Therefore, Avraham needed to have one mitzvah that would permeate physicality as well.

B. QUALITY IS VALUABLE

Since mitzvot are supposed to influence the natural order of the world, they, as well as their preparations, need to be done in a natural manner. For this reason, when the Alter Rebbe desired to recite a blessing over the moon, he wanted the boat to stop moving in a natural way, not via a miracle.

Similarly, we must pay full price for sacred items without negotiating. The Zohar states that the spirit of holiness only rests upon things we paid and worked hard for (Source 3). Rabbi Chaim Vital relates that the Arizal never negotiated over the price of a lulav and esrog (Source 4). The Talmud relates that Rabbi Gamliel paid 1000 zuz for a lulav (Source 5). We need not look for difficulties or high prices, but neither should we avoid them when they do exist. 

This is why G d did not cure Avraham miraculously from his circumcision, rather He sent him natural healing on the third day (Source 6), to retain the natural difficulties resulting from the mitzvah.

C. NATURE AS AN ANGEL

If Avraham experienced natural healing, why did he need a visit from the angel Refael?
Natural healing originates from the supernal angels. Most people only see the natural manifestation, but Avraham merited to see the source of his cure, Refael.

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