This Parsha this week is Parshas Lech Lecha. In the Parsha we read of Abraham’s travel into the land of Israel, his separation from his nephew Lot, and his promise to Lot to help him if he was ever needed. Later in the Parsha, we read how there was a major war between 4 kings who routed 5 other kings. Lot was taken captive by the 4 kings. “And the palit – (the one who was saved) came and told Abraham that his relative (Lot) had been captured” (Genesis 14:13). Our Sages identify this palit – this person as Og, who later became King of Bashan. He had been saved from the battle between the four and five kings, or from the flood at the time of Noah. He was the Giant who hundreds of years later went out to do battle with Moses right before the Jews entered the Land of Israel (Numbers 21:34). The merit of him telling Abraham at this time about his nephew Lot, was so great that not only did he live such a long life – over 400 years from this moment until the time when he did battle with Moses – but Moses was actually scared to go to war against him because of the great merit Og had in being part of saving Lot.
The Medrash tells us that Ogs intentions when he told Abraham about Lot’s capture were not so pure. He wanted Abraham to try to rescue Lot, be killed in the process, and thereby he, Og, would be able to marry Sarah, Abrahams wife. An immediate observation that comes to mind is, how complicated and mixed the human being is. On the one hand Og is involved in rescuing people from captivity and likely death. Yet, his mind is involved in causing someone to die, and coveting someone else’s wife. This is the complexity of the human being, who can in one moment include the greatest and the worst thoughts and deeds.
There is another lesson to be derived from this incident. If we were asked, of what value is the mitzvah that Og did saving Lot, when in fact his intention was to harm Abraham? Certainly, we would say it was of minimal significance. To feel that the merit would last more than a few minutes would be inconceivable. Yet, Moses, when facing Og in battle over four hundred years later, was scared that the merit of this mitzvah that Og had done may actually cause him to be victorious over Moses! Imagine, the possibility that the merit of doing a mitzvah for a bad reason, hundreds of years earlier, could possibly defeat the greatest prophet of all times, as he stood together with the entire Jewish people!! What a lesson for appreciating the power of a mitzvah!!! This is really an eye opener as to understanding and appreciating the greatness of every mitzvah that we do. If we put on Tefillin, buy something kosher, avoid speaking bad about others, or do any other mitzvah, these are actions that should give us tremendous feelings of accomplishment. We must appreciate how absolutely essential and imperative it is that we do these deeds. When we do them we must feel accomplished at having done them. Whether there is a crowd cheering for us or not, we have done something that is absolutely priceless, and deserves the greatest feelings of satisfaction and joy.