Parshas Lech Lecha: Was Avraham's Going to War Foolhardy? - Orthodox Conversion Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Parshas Lech Lecha: Was Avraham’s Going to War Foolhardy?

“And it came to pass in the days of Amrafel king of Shin’arAryokh king of Ellasar, Kedorla’omer king of Elam and Tid’al king of Goyim that these made war with Bera king of Sedom” (Genesis 14:1)

The war of the 4 kings verses the 5 kings is told here because Avraham risked his life so that he could save his nephew Lot! This was one of the ten trials that Avraham went through. Was there an obligation for Avraham to do such a thing and if he would have died would that have been called suicide?


A person is allowed to put their lives in danger to help someone else if there is a doubt whether it is a real danger or not; for a real danger it is forbidden. For example, if a person knows how to swim, he potentially can try and save someone drowning if it not life threatening to him; if he doesn’t know how to swim and he tries to save the person, he is held accountable. There is also a 614th commandment which is don’t be stupid!

In this case, there was formidable danger for Avraham to try and save the life of his nephew. Although he firmly believed that G-d would help him in this endeavor it is not called fool hardy or stupid; just the opposite! He showed the world how an all powerful G-d can help you in times of great distress!

We shouldn’t learn out from here that if Avraham could do we certainly could do this as well. The Vilna Gaon held that someone who lives their lives at an extremely high level and rely on G-d for everything, do not have to put their best foot forward for their needs. He made clear though that this individual relies on G-d for EVERYTHING! Otherwise, we have to try and use our own resources and do what we need to do.

For Avraham, this was a tangible as eating; it was clear to him that G-d would help him in this endeavor and that no harm would come to him. This is the same mentality the Maccabees used when they fought against the Greeks in the story of Chanukah. Did they really believe that a rag tag bunch of Yeshiva students would fight the world power at the time and be successful? They did and won!

If there is a doubt about the danger, one is allowed to proceed and if something does happen, they are not held liable because the danger is not acute but they must be careful nonetheless. Avraham took a great risk in what he did but the belief that G-d would help him was so strong that to him there was no danger in this endeavor.

He passed this test successfully by showing how strong his belief in Him was and spreading that to the world!

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author RabbiChaimCoffman

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