An interesting section of this week’s Parsha helps us to define the character of the Father of our nation, Avraham, at the time still named Avram. It describes a war waged between a number of feuding tribal kings, all living in Canaan – the same land that Avraham was sent to by HaShem. Avraham tried to stay out of the conflict, but when his nephew Lot was taken into captivity, Avraham responded swiftly and led his troops into a battle which resulted in a profound victory and the release of Lot and his family.


As Avraham was returning home, he was met by two very different personalities: King Avimelech of Grar, and King Bera of Sdom. Each king held a very distinct dialogue with Avraham. While the very materialistic King of Sdom naturally offered Avraham the spoils of victory, the more spiritual King of Grar presented Avraham with bread and wine.


In describing Avraham, the Rambam writes: “One who serves HaShem out of love engages in Torah and Mitzvot and walks the paths of wisdom, not because of any worldly concern and not out of fear of the evil that may befall him, and not to inherit the benefits that will result. Rather he does the Truth because it is Truth, and in the end Good will result because of it.”


The Netziv adds that no test a man faces is greater than that of success. By refusing the King of Sdom’s generous offer, Abraham demonstrated that he served only out of love and not for any reward. “If I seek no reward from HaShem, I certainly seek no reward from a mortal King.”


When Avraham decided to become a fighting man in order to save his nephew Lot, he feared that his reputation as an influential man of peace and compassion would be lost forever. The King of Grar recognised the greatness of Avraham, and wished to reassure Avraham in a very subtle way.


With most foods, when the original form is changed, the Bracha is demoted to the generic "Shehakol". Fruit juice, crisps (potato chips) and corn flakes are examples of this. Two notable exceptions are wheat and grapes. The Bracha for bread is upgraded from "Ha'adama" to "HaMotzi," while the Bracha for wine is upgraded from "Ha'etz" to "HaGefen".


To show Avraham that his good name was not only intact but actually enhanced, King Avimelech presented him davka with bread and wine, the two foods that merit the highest form of Bracha.


As long as our actions are as sincerely "Leshem Shamayim" as Avraham's were, we too will enhance our ability to influence.


Shabbat Shalom,