Who Is the Heir?

(Torah Portion: Lech Lecha) Who Is the Heir?

Our forefather Avraham had a younger brother Haran. After he died, Avraham married Haran’s daughter Sara and assumed responsibility for his son Lot.

For many years, Avraham and Sara were childless and Lot assumed that he would inherit Avraham’s vast wealth.

Because Lot was certain that he would inherit from Avraham, his shepherds had a dispute with Avraham and his shepherds.

Avraham’s herds were always muzzled when traveling so that they would not graze in the fields of others; thereby they were distinct and recognizable.

Lot and his flock traveled together with Avraham. However, Lot allowed his flocks to graze in other people’s fields.

The laxity that Lot and his shepherds had towards other people’s property, caused much tension and dispute between his shepherds and the shepherds of Avraham. Because of Lot’s behavior, Lot and Avraham parted ways amicably.

The question raised is: How could Lot brazenly and openly steal from others? Why didn’t his righteous uncle Avraham rub off on him?

The Medrash explains that Lot’s lackadaisical approach to other people’s property was a result of his confidence that he would inherit from Avraham. Since he was aware that G-d had promised Avraham the Land of Israel and the land would ultimately be his, Lot considered it as already his and allowed his flock to graze wherever they wished.

Avraham tried to reason with Lot that since at this point of time the land was only promised but not outrightly given to him, he did not yet have ownership. When Avraham realized that Lot was steadfast in his wanton ways, he realized that the only solution was the parting of ways.
The Chidushai Harim points out that concerning this episode, the Torah points out that the Cannanites and Prizites inhabited the land. The reason for this information is that a major reason behind Avraham’s plan to split up from Lot was that it is the worst thing when outsiders witness friction and dispute between relatives. Avraham therefore proposed that they separate thus ending the tension and feud between them.
Of course, as we continue studying the Torah we see that Lot did not inherit from Avraham since Avraham was blessed with a son, Yitzchok, at the age of 100.

The difference between Avraham’s attitude and Lot’s regarding the promise of the Land is starkly noticeable. The Torah relates that Avraham paid an exorbitant amount of money for a burial spot for his wife Sara. Avraham could have very well claimed future ownership and entitlement to the land without spending a dime, yet, he chose to buy the property, even when he was being taken advantage of by Efron, the owner of the property.

Two more lesson from Avraham’s dealings with Lot:

When Lot left Avraham to settle in the decadent city of Sodom, the Torah relates that G-d appeared to Avraham. Our Sages learn from this, that during the time that Lot was with Avraham, Avraham did not receive prophecy because of his proximity to the unworthy Lot. Avraham, the epitome of Chesed, was quite aware that being with Lot kept G-d from communicating with him, and he was personally disadvantaged by having Lot around, yet he devotedly provided and cared for Lot until the dispute arose.

Avraham also taught us the following essential lesson of compartmentalizing. Although he disagreed with Lot and felt he could no longer be closely associated with him, he risked his life to save Lot when he heard that Lot was captured during a massive war. Avraham’s heroic efforts displayed to all that when a brother is hurting or in danger, all issues are set aside and one must focus on saving and helping the person out.

Wishing you a most uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks