Why Was Avraham Afraid Of Malki Tzedek?

After these incidents, Hashem said to Avram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Avram; I am your Shield; your reward is exceedingly great.” (Bereishit 15:1)

What was Avraham afraid of that Hashem told him not to fear?

After these incidents refers to the amazing miracles that Hashem performed for Avraham in defeating the previously victorious four wicked kings and saving his nephew Lot from captivity.

 Chedorlaomer of Elam, the wicked son of Malki Tzedek, righteous king of Shalem a.k.a Jerusalem was one of the four slain kings. As Avraham returned victorious and passed the city of Shalem he was afraid that Malki Tzedek would curse him in retaliation.

Hashem assured Avraham that he had nothing to fear. Malki Tzedek knew that his son died as a result of his wicked deeds. Malki Tzedek actually came to greet Avraham bringing gifts of bread and wine.

And Malki Tzedek the king of Shalem brought out bread and wine, and he was a priest to the Most High God. And he blessed him, and he said, “Blessed be Avraham to the Most High God, Who possesses heaven and earth. (Bereishit 14: 18-19)

Who was Malki Tzedek?

There is a tradition that Malki Tzedek King of Shelem was Shem the righteous son of Noach. Avraham was inspired by him to introduce doing acts of loving kindness on a huge scale. This is when practicing philanthropy and doing charitable acts became part of the Jewish DNA.

The Yalkut Tehillim tells that Avraham Avinu asked Malki-Tzedek, “Through what merit did you leave the Ark?” Malki-Tzedek responded, “In the merit of the charity that we did there [in the Ark].”

Avraham asked, “What charity could you do there? Were there poor people in the Ark?! The only people there were Noach and his family? With whom did you practice charity?!”

He responded to Avraham, “With the animals – domesticated and wild – and birds. We didn’t sleep; rather, we spent our time caring for each and every species.”

The midrash continues that Avraham declared, “If these people were rewarded for acts of ‘charity’ that were integral to their very survival, then if I do ‘charity’ with people – created in the image of God – how much more so [will I be deserving of reward]!” He then opened  an inn for wayfarers and gave them food, drink and lodging.

The Rambam writes (Hilchot Matanot Aniyim 10:1) that we must be scrupulous in observing the mitzvah of giving charity more than with all other positive mitzvos, since tzedaka indicates one is a descendant of Avraham Avinu, as the verse states, “For I love him since he commands his children…to do tzedaka.” (Bereishit 18:19)

In honor of the weekly portion Lech Lecha and in honor of Avraham Avinu, please give charity to save abandoned mothers and children in Israel from the devastating effects of poverty and hunger.


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