Divrei Torah on the weekly portions
Strapped for Cash
“And Avram said to the King of Sodom: ‘I raise my hand to God … if so much as a thread or a shoe strap or if I shall take anything of yours … so that you cannot say I made Avram rich’” (Bereishit 14:22-23).
Rashi comments that Avram told the King of Sodom that God had already promised to make him wealthy so he did not need the King of Sodom’s money!
The Shlah asks that perhaps this was the way in which God would make Avram wealthy? After all, he had defeated the four kings in battle and the war spoils legitimately belonged to Avram.
He answers that Avram knew that when God had promised him wealth, He had not intended the wealth to be brought about through open miracles. Avram had beaten the enemy with a mere 318 soldiers and had won a supernatural victory. Since one should not derive benefit from open miracles because it will be deducted from his eternal reward in Olam Haba (the next world), he knew this was not the wealth God had promised him.
Gemara Sotah 17a tells us that as a reward for refusing to take even a thread or shoe strap, God gave two Mitzvot (commandments) to Avram’s descendants, namely the blue thread of Techeilet in Tzitzit and the leather straps of Tefilin.
The Meshech Chochmah says this is why Jewish males wear Talit and Tefilin at the Shacharit (morning) prayer and not at other prayer services. We know that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov instituted the three daily prayers. Since Avraham established Shacharit, and we only merited the Mitzvot of Talit and Tefilin because of him, we fulfil these Mitzvot during Shacharit.