Thoughts from Kollel KLAL

Lech Lecha

The passuk states: “ויהי השמש לבוא, and the sun was setting.” A bit farther it states “ויהי השמש באה, and the sun had set.” The Meshech Chochma says until this parsha the sun was called “מאור הגדול, the great luminary.” When Avraham came to the land of Charan, he learned that the sun was made by Hashem and it functions by serving Him, so he called it “שמש, servant.” The sun is necessary to function because of its creator, as it constantly rises in the east and sets in the west, and serves to do exactly as commanded. It is only a שמש, a servant, to serve its creator. From this point and on, the sun is called שמש, as the name of a shamosh in a shul, meaning an attendant who serves its master. Avraham called the sun שמש, which is in Aramaic, as it states in Navi Daniel, “ישמשונה.” In lashon Kodesh a servant is called משרת, and his service is called שירות.


Chazal bring: Avraham looked into the world and recognized that there is a master-planner behind everything. The Chovos Halvavos brings a mashal: an oil-painter takes a few different colors and pours them onto a canvas, will it form legible writing or a nice-looking picture? So too, Hashem created the entire world and set each part into its proper place, making it beautiful. HaRav Elchonon Wasserman adds, how could a person in their right mind think that the world with such infinite wisdom to no end, so intricate, happened to be on its own? Avraham was the 1st to see the world and recognize Hashem through the creation, and understood everything is here to serve Him.

In Pashas Netzavim, Hashem appoints the heavens and earth as witnesses that he placed before us life and death, bracha and klalah. Rashi explains, Hashem said to Bnei Yisrael, “Look at the heaven and earth that I created לשמש, to serve you. Have they changed their character? Did the sun ever not rise in the east and shine for the whole world? Look at the earth; have you ever planted and it did not grow? Or has it produced barley instead of wheat? Just as these don’t change, although they don’t get reward or punishment, you who do get reward and punishment should certainly not change your ways.” This reflects that the sun is called שמש because Hashem created it to serve us. We see that the sun serves Hashem by shining, and it serves us by providing light, warmth, rain, and fruit in the world.

My Rosh HaYeshiva asked: How can we learn a lesson from the heavens and the earth about how we should behave. The heavens and earth are inanimate; they don’t have a yeitzer hatov or yeitzer hara to convince them to do good or bad, we, however, do. How then should we learn from them not to change our ways? He answered, in Shir HaShirim it states, “do not look at me that I am dark because the sun caused it.” Rashi explains “don’t look at me in a disgraceful way, because the darkness which is a euphemism of sin, was not from birth, but rather from the sun. This darkness is easily able to revert to light again by going into the shade.” Also, the people who were around me convinced and persuaded me to do bad. In davening we say, “Elokai, neshama … tehorah he,” every Yid has a neshama tehora which naturally should cause a person do good. We see every Yid is created naturally pure and clean, it is the yeitzer hara and our surroundings which affect us and cause us to do bad. Rashi understands, we are meant to take a lesson from the heavens and earth. Just as the heavens and earth, which are inanimate, don’t change their character, so too a Yid has the potential to be as a domem, inanimate, and serve Hashem by keeping the Torah and mitzvos without being affected by others.

Let us take the lesson from the heavens and earth, to return to our good nature and constantly serve Him!

Leave a Reply