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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Beresheet: Parashat Lech-Lecha: The Subtleties

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

Hashem appeared to Avram and said, "To your offspring [a] I will give this land." So he built an altar there to Hashem, who had appeared to him.

Why does the verse explain that that Avram specifically built an altar to Hashem, "that had appeared to him"? The verse could have been written in simpler fashion, stating that Avram built an alter to Hashem, period. Why are the extra words needed?

The Or Hayim explains that these words are to praise Abraham Avinou Hashem.

Avram was just informed that he was going to merit have offspring, a future generation that will come forth from him. In addition, Avram was given another piece of good news, that those children will merit living in Israel. Still, when Avram built an altar to thank Hashem, he did so for the mere fact that "Hashem had appeared to him," and not because of the other two blessings which Hashem informed him about. This is praise to Avram, who while extremely happy about the blessings, still humbled himself and said internally, "Who am I that Hashem should even appear to me?" It was this fact that Avram celebrated by building an altar.

When we wake up in the morning, we are obligated to say the morning blessing "Berchot Hashahar". These blessings thank Hashem for various "conveniences" that we have. For example: poqeah evrim – eyesight, zokef kefoufim – allow us to stand, etc. Imagine for a moment that one of us lost his/her eyesight, and was told that a million dollar operation restores our sight. How much would we work to collect that money? We receive free vision from Hashem 24/7 and all we are asked is to recite a 5-second blessing.

We learn that we have to sometimes take a step back and be thankful for even the obvious and the taken-for-granted. Before we can be thankful for the blessings we receive in life, we must learn from Avram to also appreciate and thank Hashem for the subtleties.
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