1. Unless a person prepares beforehand, he won’t gain all there is to gain from the Haftarah of that week. (Here, The Rav went off on a side point regarding davening. With Hebrew not being the first language for most of us, people don’t appreciate the nuances and the music. When it comes to davening as well, we don’t appreciate the words and their music it sings and therefore some add their own music to them. But they are still missing out on the inner song. What is the meaning of the word davening? One explanation of the word davening is that it could be from the word דאבונון- our fathers, because the Avos set up davening- תפילות אבות תיקנם (ברכות כו:). The other explanation for davening is that it corresponds to the תמידין. But it is difficult to understand how davening corresponds to Korbanos because the idea of Korbanos is that we take an item from our possession and we sacrifice it for Hashem, which is taking something from ourselves and giving it to Hashem. However, davening is all about us asking for things from Hashem and Hashem giving us things which seems to be the opposite of Korbanos? Even more so, when it comes to a תפילת נדבה, the Halacha is that one must be מחדש a בקשה something in the שמונה עשרה. This is for sure difficult to understand as a נדבה is bringing an optional Korban to Hashem which is the highest level of giving something from ourselves to Hashem and yet in the Tefilah aspect of it, one must ask from Hashem even more than what is generally asked, as if to say he must donate a request? The answer is that by asking Hashem for everything, we are admitting that we are nothing and we have nothing and everything that we are and have is totally credited to Hashem. By admitting this, we are sacrificing our entire being and essence and giving it to Hashem. That is what we are doing when we are requesting wisdom, health, and sustenance from Hashem. Therefore by a תפילת נדבה, the person must be מחדש a need and request to further express that he is incapable of anything without Hashem which is a sacrifice of the self to Hashem.) The Pasuk in the Haftarah says מי העיר ממזרח צדק יקראהו לרגלו. Who woke up/inspired (Avraham) from the east who would proclaim his righteousness at every footsteps? A story is said about Yankel the Shamis who would go around waking up the people from the town for slichos. When it came to slichos on erev Rosh Hashanah, he was so tired that he began to fall asleep during the slichos. The kids in shul came over and the sprinkled water on him to wake him up. He woke up abruptly but then began to doze off and fell back asleep. The kids then came with a towel and whacked him on the head. They said to its not fair that you should be able to sleep now being that you woke us up and didn’t let us sleep. Therefore, we are going to keep waking you up. Before the Jewish people, the world lacked a conscious for a certain standard of behavior. The Jews, with their beliefs, brought a conscious for a certain standard of behavior to world. Because of the Jews, we awakened and inspired people to the point where it made them feel uncomfortable with requesting such high standards of them. Jews bemoan the fact that we are kept to a higher standard but it’s not fair to the world for us not to live up to this standard being that we were the ones that introduced this standard of behavior to world and made them uncomfortable for demanding such high standards. This is the meaning of the Pasuk צדק יקראהו לרגלו that Avraham was the one who introduced Hashem and his צדק to the world which now set a certain level of expectation of behavior.
  2. לך לך is the beginning of our story. From Adam to Noach, and Noach to Avraham, that’s the world’s story. But with this Parshah begins the story of the Jewish People and our journey. The Ramban asks that usually when a biblical character has an interaction with Hashem, there are usually Psukim preceding it explain what this individual did to merit having Hashem speak to him and promise him good things. But by Avraham, there is no mention of his character or anything that he did to warrant Hashem telling him to leave is land and promising good things? The Sfas Emes answers the Rambans question that the listening to the לך לך was the act itself that warranted Hashem calling out to him and promising only good things. The idea is that Hashem is constantly calling out to people telling them to move forward but we don’t heed the call and we don’t act. Avraham actually heard Hashem and that hearing was why he was deserving of Hashem reaching out to him and all the good.
  3. The Medrash in the beginning of the Parshah says as follows: א"ר יצחק למה אברהם אבינו דומה, לאחד שהיה מהלך ממקום למקום, וראה בירה דולקת, אמר שמא תאמר שהבירה הזאת בלא מנהיג, הציץ עליו בעל הבירה ואמר אני בעל הבירה Avraham Avinu saw a בירה דולקת, a palace on fire. He saw a world that was filled with unjust and pain. He questioned as to whether or not there was a מנהיג לבירה. Avraham Avinu could have concluded that there must not be a מנהיג. But the fact that it bothered him that how could the world be so unjust and how could such bad things happen forced him to come to the conclusion that there must be a God. If there wouldn’t be a God and everything would be just by chance, then nobody would feel upset, be frustrated or have any expectations for anything because nobody would be running the show and there wouldn’t be anyone to be upset at. However, being that Avraham experienced that feeling that in itself proved to him that there must be a creator and that is why it bothered him when he saw all the unjust in the world. This is a דרוש for how the Medrash ends off הציץ עליו בעל הבירה that the בעל הבירה cracked to him in his misery and showed him in his pain that there was a בעל הבירה.
  4. The Pasuk says ויבא אל הגר ותהר ותרא כי הרתה ותקל גברתה בעיניה (טז,ד). Rashi explains: אמרה שרי זו אין סתרה כגלויה, מראה עצמה כאלו היא צדקת ואינה צדקת, שלא זכתה להריון כל השנים הללו, ואני נתעברתי מביאה ראשונה. Hagar’s attitude and approach was that success is a yardstick by which we could measure a person’s level, and since Sarah hadn’t had children yet, she must be a fraud and not the person she is perceived as. But the house of Avraham understood that success and failure don’t show if you are great or not. Therefore Hagar immediately had to leave the house of Avraham because she didn’t understand this fundamental idea that success or lack of it is not an indication for where a person is holding and what level they are on.