lech lecha

This Shabbos we read Parshas Lech Lecha. The Parsha discusses most of the ten challenges or tests that Abraham had to withstand as he grew to become the Patriarch of our people. One of these tests happened when his nephew Lot was captured by Four Kings. The Bible tells us that these powerful kings had just beaten an army of five kings. Obviously, these were strong armies. Nonetheless, when Abraham heard that his nephew had been captured, he chased after these four kings, and miraculously beat them as he rescued Lot.

How did Abraham find out that Lot had been captured by these Kings? After all, there were no phones, no cameras, no radio broadcasts, no internet,… The Torah tells us that “the fugitive came and told Abraham that his nephew was captured.”(Genesis 14:13). Who was this “fugitive”? Our Sages identify him as Og, the famed King of Bashan, who many years later did battle with Moses right before the Jews entered the land of Israel. In fact, Og is given credit for this act of telling Abraham that Lot was captured, so much credit that he had the merit to live hundreds of years as a reward for this action. When Moses did actually encounter Og to do battle with him, the Torah tells us that Hashem told him “Don’t fear him (Og)” (Numbers 21:34) Our Sages explain that Moses was scared of the merit that Og still had from having been the one to inform Abraham about his nephew Lot.

Why did Og in fact go to Abraham to tell him about his nephew? That too is discussed by the Medrash. The Sages tell us that Og did not have very good intentions. In fact, all he really wanted was to be able to marry Sarah. To accomplish that he was hoping that when he told Abraham about Lot, Abraham would run to battle against the 4 kings and be killed, so that he would then be able to marry Sarah. Certainly the intentions here were less than desirable. Nevertheless, hundreds of years later Moses was still concerned that the power of this mitzvah might protect Og. The power of the lesson here speaks volumes. How much do we appreciate what we have done when we do a mitzvah? How good do we feel about ourselves when we pray, make Kiddush on Shabbos, put on tefillin, or help another Jew?

If the power of the mitzvah Og did with such horrible intentions, was still strong enough to give him hundreds of years of life and leave Moses scared to fight with him, we can only imagine how powerful the mitzvahs that we are able to do are!!! Hopefully this will give us the encouragement to keep on growing in doing more and more mitzvohs.