Two brothers are thrown into a fire, one survives, the other does not.
“When Terach had lived seventy years, he begot Abraham, Nachor and Haran… Haran died in the presence of Terach his father, in his native land, in Ur Kasdim” (Genesis 11:26-29).
The fire was ready, the light seemed to welcome its prey. Nimrod, the most powerful ruler of the world at the time stepped forward and ordered that Avram be thrown into the fire.
Let’s see your God save you now,” Nimrod taunted him, as the burly henchman lifted up Avram and threw him in. The tongues of fire licked at him, from his turbaned head to his sandals, yet Avram remained unfazed. He knew that there was only one G-d, and it was not Nimrod. Avram had faith, knowing that he was in safe hands.
Haran was watching with interest at his older brother. He knew Nimrod would soon turn to him and asked which side he was on. On Nimrod’s side, or on the side of his brother Avram who supported the idea of a one G-d. “If a miracle happens and Avram survives” he thought to himself, “then I will say that I am on Avram’s side and I too believe in one G-d, yet it Avram perishes in the fire then I will be on the safe side and say that I am on Nimrod’s side”
Immediately after, Avram emerged unscathed from the fire, and Nimrod turned his attention to Avram’s younger brother. “Whose side are you on?” he roared.
“Avram’s” was Haran’s response. Upon hearing this, the burly henchman threw Haran into the fire. Haran did emerge, yet harmed. In fact he was alive for a few moments until he passed on.
It may not seem fair, how can brothers, go through the same furnace and one not get touched? Of course, there is an obvious reason that Avram did it out of full faith. If he had known he would have perished in the fire, Haran would have said that he was on Nimrod’s side, to save his own skin, while his brother would have readily died.
But, doesn’t Haran at least get something? He may not have had the purest intentions yet he still died al Kiddush Hashem? The answer is, yes, Haran was rewarded. At the time of his death, it is known that Haran had three children. A son named Lot, and two daughters Yiskah and Milca. All of them are mentioned later on in the Torah.
Yiska is said to be Sara Imeinu. No more needs to be said, as there are many stories that speak of her greatness.
The rest of our Imahos (foremothers) are Haran’s descendents through his daughter Milca. Milca had a son named Besuel who had two children. He had a daughter named Rivka (Rebecca) who later married her cousin Yitzchak and became known as Rivka Imeinu. Lavan, Besuel’s son, is the father of the other two imahos Rochel (Rachel) and Leah.
Not only are his decendents our foremothers, yet two other important women came through his son Lot. Lot is known to be the nephew of Avram, and despite some misdeeds he gets credit for having guests in the city of Sodom where he could be punished for it. Through his daughters, Lot is the patriarch of two other nations – Moav (Moab) and Amon. These two nations were only spared due women that we get from them. Rus (Ruth) is from the nation of Moav and through her we have Dovid HaMelech (King David) and Moshiach. From Ammon came Naama, wife of Shlomo.
So in the end Haran did get his reward. From this we can learn that although it is ideal to have the right intentions when doing things, we still get reward for effort.
Next weeks topic: What is the most important meal of the day according to the Talmud/Torah/Tanach? Or what meal is mentioned to be imporant?