The Torah portions leave much to the imagination and it is from what we don't know that I suppose gets rabbis thinking of answers from what we are told. This week's parshah is prime example of this.
At the end of the First Aliyah we are told:
Fearing that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take Sarai, Abram asked her to allege that he was her brother.
The Second Aliyah then follows this up with:
For someone that has no fear of leaving his father's land and house at the age of 75, and venturing into the unknown on the word of G-d, why does Abram suddenly fear for his life and want his wife to lie for him in order for him to be spared?
For that matter, why doesn't Sarai put up any protest against being forced on another man, Pharaoh?
Finally, how does Pharaoh put two and two together to determine that it was because of his taking of Sarai that his house is overcome with the plague?
The interpretation I got from the paragraphs of the Second Aliyah is as follows:
17And the Lord plagued Pharaoh [with] great plagues as well as his household, on account of Sarai, Abram's wife.
18And Pharaoh summoned Abram, and he said, "What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?
Now as to the above, I am anticipating that you will say it was G-d that told Pharaoh that it was his taking of Sarai that caused the problem and that Abram was her husband and not his sister, but a literal reading does not explicitly say that.
What this incident has always meant to me is the power of personal sacrifice and the astounding rapidity with which a dangerous situation can become prosperous and fruitful. Perhaps we can apply that to our contemporary situation. Just as Avram and Sarei were in great danger and then suddenly found themselves bathed in wealth so too may we rapidly transition from the danger COVID presents to a prosperous world. Think of how many skills we are developing, how many problems we are being forced to solve during this COVID crisis. It has surely expedited some innovation. That is at least one of the glimmers of light that I see at the end of this long dark tunnel.
Rereading how I characterized Avram, I see that he now sounds more like a pirate than a patriarch. Still, I wonder if your picture of Avram’s faith is one of perfect trust. Perhaps that is correct. I tend to see Avram as more susceptible to the variegations of his journey. Don’t you think he would have reacted with doubt when almost as soon as he arrived in Canaan a famine brought him down to Egypt?
Lord knows I know how you feel about Jacob.
This is a fascinating question. In a sense, it only needs to be asked about Avram since Isaac and Jacob inherited their chosenness to some extent, though each had to establish an independent relationship with G-d as demonstrated by the Amidah, which states: G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac, and G-d of Jacob rather than G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From Abraham’s circumcision of himself, his serving food to the strangers, his pleading on behalf of Sodom and Gemorrah, and, of course, the Akedah, a picture emerges of a special person whose chosenness makes sense.
Why does this bother you? Is it because it’s a lie? Or because she is endangering herself? Did they have a better option at the time?
In fact, Rashi deals with this question in his comment on 13:5. This comment appears to derive from Baba Kama 93A. In short, Lot’s proximity to Avram is what made Lot wealthy. Presumably, after Avram returned to Canaan a wealthy man, Lot was in his presence and acquired wealth through his association with Avram.
As to your second response, in a sense "see above". He was either in with who was going to protect him or he was not.
As to your third comment, I do have major problems with Jakob, but Sarah is at the very top. To me, she has caused most of the problems Jews have. She tells Abraham to take her hand maiden and when he does and has a son, Ishmael, she wants Ismael and her mother to die. Well the decedents of Ishmael have carried on this grudge to this very day.
Your forth comment disturbs me in a way. When you say Isaac and Jacob to a degree inherited their choseness, what happened to Ishmael and Esau. I know the rabbinic interpretation was they were not worthy, but that to me is the easy Orthodox explanation.
Your fifth comment troubles me as well. It seems to me that Sarei took the easy way out. Being "chosen" by Pharaoh meant she would live the life of luxury. She could have "stood by her man" and see how it would have played out. I don't see the "danger" to her with going with Pharaoh.
6And the land did not bear them to dwell together, for their possessions were many, and they could not dwell together.
I take that to mean he had his own flocks, cattle and tents and did not take them from Avram. In other words, he was independently wealthy. How did he come to have this wealth?