There is a puzzling sequence of verses in this week’s Torah portion:
In Genesis 15:5, the Almighty promises a very old and barren Abraham that he will have a huge progeny – as many as the countless stars in the heavens. Abraham fully trusts in this promise and God accounted this faith as righteousness (15:6).
In verse 7, the Almighty promises Abraham the land that he has travelled to (Canaan) as an inheritance. However, in verse 8, Abraham questions, “How do I know that I will inherit it?”
This question seems bizarre. While it would have seemed virtually impossible for Abraham and Sarah, both very advanced in years, to have children at this point – the promise of a homeland was not too hard to imagine. But Abraham totally trusts that God will grant him children while doubting the possibility of inheriting the land.
According to Rebbe Elimelech of Grodzinsk, Abraham had absolutely no doubts about any of God’s promises. His only concern was whether the coming generations will also have his faith in Hashem’s promises. When he asked, “How do I know that I will inherit it?” – the sense of his wondering is: How do I know that I’ll be able to bequeath and pass this faith on to my descendants? It is only through faith that they will be worthy of possessing the land, and this was his concern.