Many times when we pursue our goals, we suffer setbacks. We think we are just about to succeed at the task we set for ourselves, but then we realise that we are further from our goals than we thought. Such is one of the great dilemmas of human existence, and it was encountered by Avraham Avinu many times in his life. Last week we read about how Avraham began the journey to the land of Israel, only to stop with his father close to the border in Charan. Eventually, the journey restarts, and he reaches Canaan but must immediately leave due to famine. When he returns, he is faced with a conflict with his nephew Lot. After separating from Lot to avoid battles between their servants, Avraham is forced to undertake military action to free Lot from the captivity his choices have inflicted on him. Throughout all these difficulties, Avraham is childless, desperately and increasingly hopelessly praying for a son to succeed him. Much of Avraham's life is a study in setbacks and challenges. However, he never loses sight of his end goal. He always remembers where he is heading and what he is trying to achieve. He never forgets his relationship with G-d. Avraham's determination ultimately enables him to achieve his goals. He begets two sons who overcome their initial conflict to make peace. He bequeaths the land he had been promised to his descendants. He establishes a lasting relationship with the divine, which will hold for his descendants forever. This was only possible because of Avraham's sheer grit and determination. It was only possible because he never stepped aside from those goals. We should learn from the example of Avraham. It is elementary to try something once or twice and conclude it is impossible. Maybe, sometimes it is. But much of the time, we have really judged that it is not worth the effort. Again, maybe it isn't. But Avraham's greatness consisted largely of never making that particular decision.
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