In our series thus far on Sefer Breishit, we have shown how the process of "bechira" - God's choice of Avraham and his offspring to become His special nation - has emerged as the primary theme. We have discussed how God had promised Avraham numerous times that his offspring ("zera") would become a great nation in a special land ("aretz"). Even though each promise added a special dimension, each one repeated in one form or other the same key phrase:

Although these divine blessings suggest that this nation is to emerge from all of Avraham's offspring, God informed Avraham that only Yitzchak, his lone son from Sarah, has been chosen to fulfill this destiny: God Himself later confirms this blessing on Yitzchak, when He forbids him to leave the land during a time of famine: What will happen when Yitzchak has children? Will only one of his children be chosen (Board #1), as was true in the case of Avraham, or will all of his offspring be chosen (Board #2)?

Considering that the reason for God's "bechira" (selection) of Avraham was in order that his offspring become a nation (see 12:1-2), this 'filtering' process of choosing only one son over others could not continue forever. Should only one 'favorite son' be chosen in each generation, a nation could obviously never develop. Sooner or later, this 'filtering process' must end, and an entire family must be chosen.

Thanks to our 20/20 hindsight, we know that this process ends after three generations (Board #4) (Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov). However, to the Avot themselves, this specific point concerning when this "bechira" process ends may have been unclear.

With this in mind, we can begin our shiur.

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