The parsha begins with Hashem telling Avraham to leave his land, his place of birth and his father’s house and travel to an unfamiliar destination. Rashi comments on this and says ‘Liha’anascha U’litovascha; for your pleasure and enjoyment.’ The puzzling question is, what type of pleasure can Avraham Avinu possibly experience? He was to leave his comfort zone and live amongst strangers, away from his family and away from the land that he was familiar with. What type of benefit can he derive from this?
Rav Moshe Leib שחור, Zt”l, (in his sefer ‘Avnei Shoham’) brings down the following story, and based on this we can appreciate the answer.
There was a Rav in a certain city that would devote much of his valuable time tending to the noble mitzvah of Pidyun Shvuyin, (releasing prisoners from jail). One evening, when the Rav was home, there was a knock on his door. When the Rav opened it, he found himself standing in front of two policemen. Without any explanation they told the Rav that he must come with them and they proceeded to read him his rights. They whisked him away and off to jail he was escorted.
As mazel would have it, he was sharing his jail cell with a wise old man. The man came over to the Rav and proclaimed the following: ‘the reason why Hashem made this happen to you was that you should really feel like a prisoner. You can now actually feel what real prisoners go through. In order for you to have a greater appreciation for your righteous work and understand the mindset inmates are feeling when you visit them. He wants you to appreciate what you do even more!’
Avraham Avinu was the pillar of chesed. His entire life was dedicated to hachnasas orchim, inviting in guests. Hashem wanted Avraham to see how appreciative people are of his efforts. He wanted that Avraham Avinu should taste what it was like not to be at home. Through this, Avraham had the authentic feeling of what a guest feels like! He can now have an even bigger appreciation for the mitzvah, which he performed so blissfully, permitting him to achieve this on a higher level.
We find an identical idea in the sefer Hachinuch. The sefer Hachinuch writes that one of the mitzvos we have, is ‘V’ahavta es HaGer; to love the convert’. Interestingly, the Torah tells us the reason for this is ‘because we were converts in the land of Mitrayim.’ The sefer Hachinuch points out that we already tasted first hand living in discomfort. Once we have this understanding of what that uneasiness was like, we are now compelled to reach out even more and to love the Ger.
Many a time a person is inflicted, lo aleinu, with a terrible nisyon. Be it work related, in learning, in marriage or any other field. One must keep in mind that everything happens for a reason and that might just be the reason of Hashem, for us to feel what it’s like.
Perhaps, in the future, the tables will turn and we will be able to look back and be of assistance to another person. As you will be able to conjure up the memories and feelings in your mind and say ‘I remember what this was like when I was going through this’, perhaps it will enable you to help that person overcome their challenge.
May we all be zoche to only experience nisyonos that will elevate us to a higher level of serving Hashem until the kohanim will ultimately do the avodah in the Beis Hamikdash speedily in our days.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS