Home Seniors Programs Special Needs Mommy and Me Join a Study Group Bat Mitzvah Program for Women of All Ages One on One Learning Giving
Opportunities
Parsha Points About Us Contact Us

Vayera
Is Lot's wife still standing near the Dead Sea Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 November 2017
When the cities of Sdom and Amora were about to be destroyed, Lot and his family were commanded (Breisheet 19:17) "Escape for your life; Do not look behind you and do not stay on the plain, run for the mountains lest you be consumed."

Rashbam brings three reasons for why they were told not to look backwards:
So that they would not have mercy on their daughters and sons in law who refused to leave with them, so that they would not be held up along the way and so that they would not see the angels destroying the city.

When God poured sulphur and fire on the cities, Lot's wife did not follow the commandment not to look back as it says in Breisheet 19:26 "But his wife looked back from behind him and she became a pillar of salt."

Why did she look back after already being warned not to?

According to Pirkei De Rebbi Eliezer, she had mercy on her two married daughters who lived in Sdom and she wanted to check to see if they were following the rest if the family out of the city.

Near the Dead Sea, a huge rock was found which is identified as Lot's wife. In the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 218:8 the halacha was codified: When you see Lot's wife one should recite the blessing: "Dayan HaEmet" (Bless God who is the true judge) and in memory of Lot one should recite "Zocher Tzadikim" (Remember the Righteous).

Today, I was driving along the Dead Sea and saw a sign that said "Lot's wife." The sign points to a rock formation that looks like a woman. The chances that this rock is actually Lot's wife are very slim considering that the rock is much bigger than an actual person. Also, over thousands of years the shape of the rock would have probably changed. However, we know that she was turned into a pillar of salt in that vicinity, we just don't know exactly where. The sign reminds us that the story took place in that area and the Dead Sea was formed by the destruction of Sdom  and  Amora and that is why to this day nothing will grow there.
 
Walking in the Path of God Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 October 2015

In memory of our friend and neighbor Mr. Richard Lakin who was murdered while riding the 78 bus in Jerusalem

In Breisheet 18:18-19 we read: “Avraham is indeed to become a great and mighty nation and through him shall be blessed all of the nations of the world. For I have given him special attention because he commands his children and his household after him and they will preserve the way of God, doing righteousness and justice (tzedaka umishpat) so that God will bring upon Avraham all that which He has spoken of him.”

The way of God is the way of righteousness and justice. Avraham and his descendents are commanded to emulate God by doing righteousness and justice.

Avraham was a role model in the area of Kvod HaBriyot, respect for all of God’s creations. Avraham welcomed strangers into his home, sought to save the people of Sdom even though they were corrupt and was distressed when Yishmael had to be sent away.

In Yirmiyahu 9:22-23 we see the importance of righteousness and justice: “Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land: for in these things I delight says the Lord.”

According to Radak, to know God is to imitate His ways by dealing with others with kindness, justice and righteousness.

Righteousness and justice are also found in Amos 5:24: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

The Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746) wrote a famous book of musar called Derech HaShem, The Way of God. He chose that title because “it speaks of God’s ways as revealed by His prophets and taught in His Torah. These are the ways in which God directs both ourselves and everything else He created.”

This past Tuesday we received the horrible news that our neighbor, Mr. Richard Lakin passed away. Mr. Lakin had been in critical condition for two weeks after being shot and stabbed by two terrorists on our local 78 bus. Mr. Lakin was a man who walked in God’s path. He lived on the main floor of our apartment building in the Talpiot/Arnona section of Jerusalem. I saw him when entering or leaving the building almost every day. He always had a kind word to say. I even ran into him outside of our building on the afternoon before the 78 bus was attacked by two terrorists. He was a humble person that would never hurt anyone.

A few years ago Mr. Lakin gave me a copy of the book that he wrote: Teaching as an Act of Love. It was interesting to learn more about this man who I always saw around but didn’t know much about. In his book, one can see what a wonderful principal he was in a Connecticut elementary school before making Aliya in the 1980s. He was careful to teach every child in the way that they would learn best. In one story, a student who couldn’t handle the new math curriculum was totally lost so Mr. Lakin pulled old math books out of the closet and taught the student the more traditional methods which were easier to grasp. When students were asked to bring gifts to exchange with their friends, Mr. Lakin didn’t embarrass the poor student who brought a live chicken to school but rather accepted the gift graciously and took the chicken home with him. Just like Avraham, Mr. Lakin was a role model who cared about every human being.

At the end of his introduction, the Ramchal writes: “And now, fellow seekers of God, go on your way. May God be with you, giving you eyes to see and ears to hear the wonders of His Torah.”

 Using the Torah as our guidebook, we must follow the path that God outlines for us and bring more kindness, justice and righteousness to the world.

  

 
We Don’t Sacrifice Our Children Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 November 2014

At the end of Parshat Vayera we read the story of Akedat Yitzchak. God commands Avraham (Breisheet 22:2) “Please take your son, your only one, who you love-Yitzchak- and go to the land of Moriah; bring him up there as an offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell you.”

Avraham would have been willing to sacrifice his son Yitzchak if that was what God was asking for. Child sacrifice was commonly done during that time period so although Avraham did not want to sacrifice the son that he waited one hundred years to finally receive, he would have done it if necessary.

However, that is not what God wanted.

Rashi points out that God did not say to Avraham, “slaughter him!” because God did not wish him to be killed, but, only to be brought up the mountain to be made into an Olah (sacrifice). Once he brought him up God said to him, “Bring him down.”

We learn from here that Judaism is a religion of life. Even if other nations are sending their children off to die in the name of their religion, it is not something that we do.

You may ask why we even need to discuss this topic as we are no longer living in the days of child sacrifice.

The answer is that unfortunately child sacrifice is still taking place. During Operation Protective Edge children served as human shields. Throughout the world we hear about young children who are being sent out in explosive belts to carry out suicide bombings. Teenagers are sent by their parents to throw stones at Israeli soldiers, Israeli cars and the light rail train knowing that there is a chance that they may get killed in clashes with the soldiers.

Last week, a 32 year old Islamic Jihad terrorist who was a resident of Jerusalem tried to assassinate Rabbi Yehuda Glick. Fatah’s youth movement in Jordan’s Facebook page posted: “With great pride Fatah salutes its heroic martyr of Jerusalem”. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself said the man who shot Yehuda Glick would go to heaven as a martyr.

This terrorist was 32 years old. Yitzchak’s age at the time of the Akeda was 37 (as he was born when Sarah was ninety and she passed away at 127 about the same time as the Akeda). The Akeda reminds us that our children are our children no matter how old they are and contrary to what Fatah and Abbas have to say, it is unacceptable for them to martyr themselves at any age.

And where did the Akeda take place?

Avraham was specifically told to bring Yitzchak up to Har HaMoriah, the Temple Mount which from that moment became the Jewish nation’s holiest site.

 

 
Selfishness Brought the Destruction of Sdom Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 October 2013

In Parshat Vayera we read about God’s destruction of the city of Sdom.

 

What was so terrible about Sdom that it had to be utterly destroyed and still remains a wasteland today?

 

According to the prophet Yechezkel (Yechezkel 16:49): “Behold this was the sin of Sdom, your sister: She and her daughters had pride, fullness of bread and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

 

The Midrash Pirkei DeRebbi Eliezer states: “They issued a proclamation in Sdom saying: Everyone who strengthens the hand of the poor and needy with a loaf of bread shall be burnt by fire. Plotit, a daughter of Lot was married to one of the great men of Sdom. She saw a very poor man in the street and she felt bad for him. What did she do? Every day when she went out to draw water she put in her pitcher all kinds of provisions from her house and she sustained the poor man. The men of Sdom said: How does this poor man live? When they ascertained the facts they brought Plotit forth to be burnt by fire. She cried out: Sovereign of all worlds! Maintain my right and my cause at the hands of the men of Sdom! And her cry ascended before the throne of glory. In that hour God said: I will go down and see whether they have in fact done what she is crying about. If it turns out to be true then I will overthrow the city.”

 

Nechama Leibowitz points out: “Their wickedness was the law of the land and whoever violated the law and performed a good deed prompted by his own instincts of pity was condemned to be burnt at the stake. There was no remedy for such a society but total destruction.”

 

We must learn a lesson from what happened to the selfish people in Sdom and make every effort to make laws that protect the poor and the needy to ensure that nobody in the Land of Israel goes hungry.

 
Say Little and Do Much Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 October 2012

Sponsored in Honor of Dov Ber’s Bar Mitzvah by Sharona, Josh, Moshe and Yehuda Halickman 

In Parshat Vayera, Avraham, who is recovering from a Brit Milah (circumcision at the age of 99) is happy to welcome three unexpected guests to entertain.

 

When the guests arrive, Avraham gives them water to wash their feet. He then tells them that he is going to bring some bread for them to eat before they continue on their way.

 

Rambam points out that even though Avraham only said that he would bring them bread, he rushes in order to put together a whole meal. Avraham exemplified the words mentioned in Pirkei Avot 1:15, “Say little and do much.”

 

Avraham hurries to Sarah’s tent and says (Breisheet 18:6) “Hurry! Take three measures of the finest flour (kemach solet); knead it and make cake-rolls (oogot).”

 

According to Radak, they needed three measures of the finest flour (a large amount) so that each one of the guests would get his own “challah”. The flour that they used is known to bake quickly so that the guests wouldn’t have to wait too long for the bread to be ready.

 

Chizkuni believes that the bread that was served was actually matzah. When you bake matzah, you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise so it is made much quicker than regular bread. The visitors were in a hurry (since they were really angels and they had an import mission to attend to) and Avraham didn’t want to keep them waiting too long.

 

Avraham then went to get a tender, choice calf. Rashi comments that there were three calves so that each of the guests could eat an entire calf’s tongue (a delicacy for kings and princes). Chizkuni adds that it was quicker to cook the tongue than to try to prepare the entire calf.

 

Avraham then brought them the food and they ate.

 

We can learn from Avraham the importance of fulfilling the mitzvah of welcoming guests even when we don’t have a lot of time to prepare for them. Avraham quickly did what needed to be done in order for the guests to have a good meal before continuing on their way.

 

 
The Dead Sea- A Wonder of the World? Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 November 2011

 

Today is the last day to vote for the Dead Sea to be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

 

Is the Dead Sea as we know it today really in its ideal state?

 

When Lot first went to live in the area where the Dead Sea is located today, it looked very different. We read in Breisheet 13:10-11: “Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire Jordan Plain, that it was abundantly watered; before God destroyed Sdom and Amora it was like God’s garden, like the land of Egypt going towards Zoar. Lot chose for himself the entire Jordan Plain; Lot journeyed from the east and they separated one from another.”

 

In Parshat Vayera we see that once Lot, his wife and his daughters were out of Sdom safely in the neighboring town of Zoar, God was ready to destroy Sdom and Amora. In Breisheet 19:24-26 we read: “God caused it to rain upon Sdom and Amora- sulfer and fire- from God from heaven. He overturned these cities, and the entire plain, and all those who lived in the cities and all that grew upon the ground. His wife looked behind him; and she became a pillar of salt.”

 

Radak explains that after the cities were destroyed nothing else was able to grow there. He adds that not only did Lot’s wife turn to salt, everyone in the cities turned into salt or sulfur. Even though the pasuk doesn’t specify salt being poured down, we see in Devarim 29:22 : “and that the whole land is brimstone and salt and burning, that it is not sown nor bears nor does any grass grow on it like the overthrown Sdom and Amora”. We learn from here that salt was used as well.

 

In Yechezkel 47:8-9, the prophecy talks about the waters being healed and that fish will live there. Rashi and Mitzudat David say that this is an allusion to the waters of Sdom.

 

In other words, although the Dead Sea is unique and may be a wonder of the world as well as a place where people from all over the world come to be exposed to the healing salt and mud, ideally, the region should be restored to how it was when Lot first saw it, not as a wasteland but rather as God’s garden.

 
The Differences between the Visit to Pharaoh and the Visit to Avimelech Print E-mail
Friday, 22 October 2010

Sponsored by Midreshet Devora www.midreshetdevora.org a post high school midrasha for students who want to live, learn and feel the love of the Land of Israel. Applications are now being accepted for the 2011-2012 Academic year!

 

The Differences between the Visit to Pharaoh and the Visit to Avimelech

 

In Parshat Lech Lecha we read about Avram and Sarai going down to Egypt because of a famine. In Breisheet12:11-13 we read: “As he came near and he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife, Sarai, ‘Behold, now I realize that you are a woman of beautiful appearance. It will happen that when the Egyptians see you that they will say: This is his wife. They will kill me and let you live. Please say that you are my sister, so that it will go well with me for your sake, and my life shall be spared because of you.”

 

How is it possible that Avram was married to Sarai for so many years and he is only realizing now how beautiful she is?

 

Rashi brings a few different answers:

  1. Until now he had not been aware of her beauty due to modesty.
  2. Tanchuma points out that when they passed by a river he saw how beautiful her reflection was.
  3. Usually when someone is traveling they become unattractive, but she has remained with her beauty.
  4. The time has come for me to be concerned over your beauty. I have known for a long time that you are beautiful. Now we are coming amongst repulsive people and they are not accustomed to seeing a beautiful woman.
 

In that incident, Sarai was taken to Pharaoh’s house. Avram was treated well, he acquired sheep, oxen, donkeys, slaves and camels. Pharaoh and his household received severe plagues. Pharaoh realized that Sarai is married to Avram and asked why he said that Sarai was his sister and why he allowed him to take Sarai as a wife. Avram doesn’t have a chance to respond, we just see that Pharaoh says “Here is your wife, take her and go”.

 

In Parshat Vayera, Breisheet 20:1,although there is no famine, Avraham and Sarah travel to Grar (the land of the Plishtim).

 

In 20:2 we read: “Avraham said to Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister’. Avimelech the king of Grar sent messengers and took Sarah”.

 

This pasuk sounds a little strange as it doesn’t seem like Avraham is talking to Sarah. Rashi quoting Breisheet Raba brings in the idea that Avraham was talking “al” about his wife and not “el” to his wife. He did not get her consent but rather said that she was his sister against her will, since she had already been taken to Pharaoh’s house because of this.

 

Sarah was lucky the first time where God sent Pharaoh a plague which caused him to not be able to have relations with her. Should she rely on a miracle again this time?

 

God spoke to Avimelech in a dream and told him that he will die because he took a married woman. Therefore Avimelech didn’t touch her. Saved again!

 

Avimelech asked Avraham in the morning why he did such a thing (according to Rashi the people of Grar received a plague as well).

 

This time, Avraham had a chance to explain that he was afraid that there was no fear of God there and that they would kill him in order to take his wife.

 

He also added that he wasn’t lying as it says in 20:12 “In any case, she is my sister, the daughter of my father but not the daughter of my mother and she became my wife.”

 

Avimelech gave Avraham sheep, cattle, slaves and he returned Sarah. He then said “Behold my land is before you. Live wherever you see fit.” Avimelech also gave Sarah 1000 pieces of silver to uphold her dignity and give people the message that he did not have relations with her.

 

This is very different from Pharaoh who basically threw them out! Avraham then prayed for Avimelech to be healed.

 

When we compare and contrast the two stories we see that Avraham had a better relationship with Avimelech than with Pharaoh as with Avimelech he was given a chance to clear up the misunderstandings. Avimelech didn’t have a problem with Avraham living in his land and Avraham was happy to pray on behalf of Avimelech and the people of Grar.

 
Don’t Just Check Out the Real Estate, Check Out the Community! Print E-mail
Friday, 06 November 2009

In Parshat Vayera we read about God’s destruction of the cities of Sdom and Amora and how God saved Lot (Avraham’s nephew) and his family.

 

How did Lot end up in Sdom in the first place?

 

In last week’s Parsha, Lech Lecha, Lot’s shepherds and Avram’s shepherds weren’t getting along so Avram told Lot that he would rather not fight and he gave him the choice to choose the part of Israel that he would like to live in: Breisheet 13:9-11 “If you go left then I will go right, and if you go right then I will go left. So Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire plain of the Jordan that it was well watered everywhere (before God destroyed Sdom and Amora) like the garden of God, like the land of Egypt, going toward Zoar. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan…”

 

According to Ramban, the whole land of the Plain was adequately irrigated from the Jordan by working with the foot, just as was done in the garden of God as it says in Breisheet 2:10: “and a river went out of Eden to water the garden” and as is the way of the land of Egypt, concerning which is stated in Devarim 11:10: “And you watered it with your foot”. We see from here that the land of the Plain was as adequately irrigated as the Garden of Eden, the most perfect place on earth. Egypt is mentioned as well since it is a place known for pasture.

 

Everything sounds great about Lot’s choice until we read on a few psukim to sentence 13: “Now the people of Sdom were wicked and sinful toward God, exceedingly”.

 

As a result of the sinful behavior of the people of Sdom, God destroyed Sdom in Parshat Vayera. That area transformed from a “Garden of Eden” to become the desolate and inhospitable Dead Sea region of today.

 

When Lot split from Avraham and went to Sdom, he only checked out how beautiful the land was, but he did not check out who the inhabitants were. In the end, Avraham had to rescue Lot and his family, before the entire cities were destroyed.

 

We can learn from Lot’s mistake that it is not enough to check out the real estate before we look for a new place to live, we must be diligent in checking out who is living in the community.

 
The Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim- Inviting Guests Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 November 2008

In Breisheet 18:5-8, Avraham saw three people heading in the direction of his tent and he ran to welcome them into his home (even though he wasn’t well after undergoing a brit milah at age 99). Avraham then told them that he would bring them a morsel of bread. Off he hurried to Sarah’s tent and told her to hurry up and make “oogot” (according to the Alshich she quickly made them matzot- “oogot matzot”). Then he ran again, this time to the cattle, took a tender and good calf and asked the young man (according to Rashi, his son Yishmael) to quickly prepare it.
 
According to Daat Zekeinim, Avraham quickly brought back the cream and milk for the men to eat right away (since that required little preparation) and then he brought the full meal which consisted of calves meat.
 
Radak explains that the reason that this whole story is recounted is to teach us how excited and quick Avraham was to observe the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim, inviting guests. Not only did he invite them in, he gave them the best of everything that he had: fine flour and a tender and good calf.
 
Avraham also wanted to get his family involved in observing the mitzvah as well. He therefore asked Sarah to bake the “oogot” and he asked Yishmael to cook the meat. Ramban points out that we especially see Avraham’s generosity in the fact that he and his family prepared everything on their own, even though it says in Breisheet 14:14 that he had 318 servants.
 
If Avraham took this mitzvah so seriously when he was not even well, then certainly so should we. Anyone was has been away from home or alone knows what a great feeling it is to be welcomed into somebody’s home. Let’s take this opportunity on Parshat Vayera to look around our communities and invite people who otherwise would be alone. Although it takes a lot of work and preparation, it is certainly easier than having a brit milah at age 99!

 
The Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim- Visiting the Sick Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 October 2007

At the end of Parshat Lech-Lecha, Avraham had a brit milah (was circumcised) at age 99. In the beginning of Parshat Vayera, Avraham was still recovering.

Parshat Vayera begins with the words (Breisheet 18:1) “God appeared to him in Elonei Mamrei”.

Rashi explains that God appeared to Avraham in order to perform the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.  Rabbi Chama Bar Chanina said: It was the third day since his Brit Milah and God came to inquire about his welfare (Bava Metzia 86b).

The Gemara in Sotah 14a states: Rabbi Chama Bar Chanina said: What is the meaning of (Devarim 13:5) “Vehalachta Bidrachav”, “Hashem your God, you shall follow”? Is it possible for a human being to follow the Divine Presence? The Mitzvah is to follow the attributes of God. Just as God clothes the naked, you too must clothe the naked…Just as God visited the sick, you too should visit the sick…Just as God comforted mourners, you too should comfort mourners…Just as God buried the dead, you too should bury the dead.

By performing these mitzvoth we are emulating God.

Rambam states that it is a mitzvat aseh, positive commandment to visit the sick. Based on the Gemara in Nedarim 39-40, Rambam explains that one who visits the sick actually removes one sixtieth of their pain and on the contrary, whoever does not visit the sick is considered to be spilling blood.

In Jerusalem I have seen many wonderful acts of Bikur Cholim. When my baby, Yehuda was one month old, he was sick with bronchilitis and had to be hospitalized for a few days. On Saturday night, a group of Yeshiva high school students visited the hospital, instruments in hand and sang songs for the children. At only one month old, I could already see what a difference these students made and I truly believe that they helped speed up his recovery.

Last month, a Bat-Mitzvah girl from New York, Zahava Kunstler decided to celebrate her Bat –Mizvah with Torat Reva Yerushalayim. Zahava and her friends went to the Nursing Home- Yerushalayim Shel Zahav in the Talpiot section of Jerusalem and made Sukkah decorations with the residents. A month later, the residents are still talking about what a wonderful time they had. At that moment Zahava and her friends were emulating God.

Wherever we are in the world, let’s all take upon ourselves this important mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.

 
The True Inheritor of the Land of Israel Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 November 2006

Sarah miraculously gave birth to Yitzchak when she was ninety years old as God had previously promised Avraham. Yitzchak was the first baby to enter the covenant of the Jewish people when he had his Brit Milah at eight days old. When Yitzchak was weaned at approximately age two, Avraham made a big party.

On the day of the party the pasuk states (Breisheet 21:9) "Sarah saw that the son of Hagar, the Egyptian that she had born to Avraham (Yishmael), was mocking". The pasuk does not elaborate on what this mocking was.

The next pasuk (21:10) continues "Sarah said to Avraham: Drive out this slave-woman and her son (Yishmael), for the son of this slave-woman will not inherit with my son, with Yitzchak".

Since Sarah mentioned the inheritance, we are led to believe that Yishmael may have said something about how he rather than Yitzchak will be the true inheritor.

According to Sforno, Yishmael went around gossiping that it was Avimelech (King of Gerar), not Avraham who was Yitzchak's father. Yishmael probably heard these rumors from Hagar who was trying to invalidate Yitzchak's inheritance. Therefore Sarah said "Drive out the slave women and her son.for he will not inherit."

In psukim 11-13 we read: "The thing was very wrong in the eyes of Avraham on account of his son. God said to Avraham, .Do not consider this wrong in your eyes on account of the boy and the slave-woman. Regarding all that Sarah tells you listen to her, for in Yitzchak shall your seed be called. The son of the slave-woman I will also make into a nation, for he is of your seed'."

According to Radak, Avraham who had helped so many people get on the right path felt bad that he couldn't help his own son Yishmael and had to send him away. God told Avraham to listen to Sarah. According to Rashi, Sarah actually had more prophecy than Avraham.

According to Chizkuni, Breisheet 17:20, The true inheritor of the land of Israel could only be the son of both Avraham and Sarah (Yitzchak) and not the son of Avraham and Hagar (Yishmael). Yishmael would become a nation as well, but the land of Israel will eternally belong to the descendents of Yitzchak, the Jewish people.

 
Why Go To Grar? Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 December 2005

In Breisheet 20:1 we read: "Avraham journeyed toward the Negev and dwelt (vayeshev) between Kadesh and Shur and he sojourned (vayagar) in Grar."

Grar was the land of the Plishtim (Philistines), in the vicinity of where the Gaza strip is today.

Why did Avraham travel to Grar?

At first glance, one may think that he went because of a famine. After all, in Parshat Lech Lecha Avraham went down to Egypt because of a famine in the Land of Israel. In Parshat Toldot, Breisheet 26:11, Yitzchak goes to Avimelech, King of the Plishtim in Grar because of a famine. However, our case is different. When we take a closer look at Breisheet 20:1, we see that there is no mention of a famine. Furthermore, in Parshat Toldot, Breisheet 26:11, we can infer that there was only one famine in the days of Avraham and that was the famine when Avraham went down to Egypt.

According to Radak, the reason why Avraham went to sojourn in Gerar was so that he could acquire and hold on to the entire land of Israel. He was staking his claim. As God promised Avraham in Breisheet 13:16: "Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to you."

Radak adds that the land of the Plishtim is considered part of the land of Israel. This can be found in Breisheet 15:21.

In the Book of Yehoshua 13:3 we find that the land of the Plishtim is included in the inheritance of the tribe of Yehudah.

We can learn from Avraham the importance of traveling throughout the Land of Israel. Traveling in Isreal shows that we care about the land and that we want to inherit it.