Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Rabbi Nachman KahanaCourtesy

Our parasha relates the beginning of the eternal covenant between the Almighty and the father of the Jewish nation, Avraham Aveinu (Beraishiet 15,7-21):

7 Hashem said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it." 8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" 9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon." 10 Abram brought all these to Him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other. The birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep; and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at an old age. 16 In the fourth generation, your descendants will return here; for the sin of the Amorites has yet to reach its full measure."

17 When the sun had set and darkness fell, a smoking oven with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day, the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."

I submit that the covenant must be viewed on the background of Hashem’s vow never again to bring a deluge to destroy all mankind.

As a result of the decision to refrain from destroying mankind, Hashem, as it were, put Himself in a corner. Man was now free to give vent to all his evil instincts without fear of Divine retribution. The powerful could now control the weak, and the rich could now buy favors and influence. Evil would replace good, and immorality heralded in the halls of academia as "Man’s inherent right to freedom”. God would become many gods clashing with each other in the heavens and leaving them no time to take notice of lowly man. Dictatorship, atheism, torture, authorized murder, incest, war, slavery - these would be the new world order while Hashem’s hands would be tied through His own self-constraint.

Who would police the new world? Who would defend the rights of the downtrodden and oppressed? Who would show mankind the way back to Hashem?

Towards these ends, Hashem declared that He would appoint a chosen segment of humanity to create a clash of civilizations necessary for the return of man to Hashem. This nation would bear the wrath of mankind as it fights to negate the messages of right and wrong battering on the doors of their conscience.

For 2000 years, the world, by its evil actions and philosophies was in dire need of such a nation. Its forbearer would have to be a man who recognizes evil for what it is and was determined to strike out against it regardless of his personal risks. He would have to be a man of great personal integrity, with love of fellow man, and spiritual in his basic nature.

The search was completed when Avraham Aveinu went to war against four standing armies in order to secure the release of innocent captives. Avraham did all this, despite the numerical superiority of the enemy, with no logical basis to believe that he could win except his belief that justice would triumph over evil.

As with all things regarding the Creator, the essence of the covenant is metaphysical and absolutely beyond the natural processes of this world. That, at some time in infinity, Hashem suddenly decided to create a world is beyond our comprehension. That Hashem created matter from nothing is beyond all human understanding. That Hashem makes contact with lowly man is incomprehensible. And that He chose a particular nation to be His is also incomprehensible.

The essence of the covenant is that the Jewish people would agree to live like Avraham in a manner defying all human understanding and that Hashem would reward us in an unnatural way.

Brit Bain Habetarim (the Covenant of the Divided Parts) declared that the Jewish nation would be the reconnaissance unit of Hashem, whose task would be to meet the enemy and engage it in battle until the end. Hashem would involve Himself in world affairs through His proxy - Am Yisrael.

The Jewish nation would willingly relinquish its ambitions to be an empire. Until the Mashiach comes, we would always remain small in numbers. Our homeland, Eretz Yisrael, sits on the edge of the desert and is surrounded by natural wealth in the ground of our neighbors but little for us. Our future, Avraham is told, would be replete with episodes of slavery, the torch and oven, and dark nights. Our mission as Hashem’s proxies would be to clash with the world’s civilizations, shatter their essence and disclose the lies within them.

We would meet the Egyptian superpower and drown him in the Red Sea. We would clash head on with the overwhelming numbers of idol-worshipping peoples of Canaan and destroy them. Our existence would baffle the historians and philosophers as we encountered the pagan Greek and weakened his image as the bearers of truth. We would also fall before the Babylonians and Romans who would destroy our Temples, but we would rise from the dust when no Greek or Roman would be around to tell his story.

The Covenant guarantees that if we willingly relinquish our worldly life for an unexplainable existence at the hand of God, we will receive everlasting life in this and the next world.

In the last century alone, we have clashed with the most evil of human doctrines. The Germans and their eager Christian allies sought to annihilate the Jewish nation, but they were brought to their knees. The USSR was determined to destroy Judaism, but they were forced to open their doors to let millions of Jews leave.

We are now clashing with the worst enemy of man and God - Islam. The vulgar love of death in the Islamic mind is a degradation to the efforts of mankind to ascend from the pits of barbarianism and savagery. The Muslim does not love God, nor does he believe in Him - he uses God as a weapon as one would use a whip.

We have now entered the final stage in our clash with civilizations. We have survived in a miraculous manner, as promised by Hashem to Avraham, and have reached the end of the stated covenant:

"When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking oven with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces (the Shoah). On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt (the Nile) to the great river, the Euphrates (flowing from Turkey to the Persian Gulf). The land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."

Hashem is deep in the process of keeping His side of the Covenant. He has guided us through 3500 years of unnatural existence until this very day. The enemies of the Jewish nation are the enemies of Hashem. Iran, Syria, Turkey, the Christian world which seeks to convert the Jews, and most of mankind for that matter will soon realize the implications of the Covenant as we return home to a future beyond our wildest imaginations.

Rabbi Nachman Kahanais a Torah scholar, author, teacher and lecturer, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, Co-founder of the Temple Institute, Co-founder of Atara Leyoshna – Ateret Kohanim, was rabbi of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem for 32 years, and is the author of the 15-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, and 3-volume “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah” (2009-2011), and “Reflections from Yerushalayim: Thoughts on the Torah, the Land and the Nation of Israel” (2019) as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at http://NachmanKahana.com