The passuk in this week’s sedrah (14:22 - 23) relates Avraham reply to the king of Sedom when he offered to reward Avraham for saving him from the four kings:
וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם הֲרִימֹתִי יָדִי אֶל ה' קֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. אִם מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ נַעַל וְאִם אֶקַּח מִכָּל אֲשֶׁר לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת אַבְרָם
“And Avram said to the king of Sedom, ‘I have lifted up my hand to Hashem G-d most high owner of heaven and earth. If I will take from you from a thread to the clasp of a shoe or if I will take anything from you so that you should not say that I made Avraham wealthy.”
The passuk says in Shir haShirim (7:2):
מַה יָּפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בַּנְּעָלִים בַּת נָדִיב
“How beautiful are your footsteps in shoes, the daughter of the generous one.”
The gemara in Chagigah (3a) explains that this passuk is referring to the benei yisrael meriting to be oleh le’regel because of the generosity of Avraham Avinu:
דרש רבא מאי דכתיב מה יפו פעמיך בנעלים בת נדיב כמה נאין רגליהן של ישראל בשעה שעולין לרגל בת נדיב בתו של אברהם אבינו שנקרא נדיב שנאמר (תהלים מ"ז, י') נדיבי עמים נאספו עם אלקי אברהם אלקי אברהם ולא אלקי יצחק ויעקב אלא אלקי אברהם שהיה תחילה לגרים
“Rava explained, what does the passuk mean when it says ‘how beautiful are your footsteps in shoes the daughter of the generous one’? How pleasant are the legs of the benei yisrael at the time when they are oleh le’regel. ‘The daughter of the generous one’ – ‘the daughter of Avraham Avinu who is called the generous one as the passuk says ‘the generous ones of the peoples have gathered, the people of the G-d of Avraham [who was the first ger].”
Similarly the medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 43:9) comments on this passuk:
ועד שרוך נעל, אלו פעמי רגלים, היך מה דאת אמר (שיר השירים ז' ב') מה יפו פעמיך בנעלים
“In the merit that Avraham Avinu refused to accept even the clasp of a shoe from the king of Sedom he merited that his descendants should be oleh le’regel in shoes as the passuk says in Shir ha’Shirim ‘how beautiful are your footsteps in shoes’.”
· Why is the mitzvah of being oleh le’regel represented specifically by the feet of the benei yisrael being shod in shoes? The fact that they were wearing shoes when they were oleh le’regel would seem to be totally incidental to the mitzvah to be oleh le’regel?
The Meshech Chachmah explains as follows:
Rabbeinu Yonah says in Avos (5:4) that the war against the four kings was a test of bitachon for Avraham Avinu:
החמישי מלחמת ארבעה מלכים שבשלש מאות ושמנה עשר איש החזיק ובטח בהקב"ה ונעשה לו נס שניצל והציל אחיו וכל רכוש סדום ועמורה והיה סובל המקרים לטובתו ולזכותו
“The fifth test of Avraham Avinu was the war against the four kings where with 318 men Avraham Avinu trusted in Hashem and a nes happened for him that he was saved and he saved Lot and all of the wealth of Sedom and Amorah.”
Avraham Avinu did not want to take a reward from the king of Sedom because that would have mitigated the level of bitachon he reached by going to war. When Avraham Avinu said to the king of Sedom that he would not from a thread to a shoe clasp from him, he meant that even if he would be left without clothes and without shoes altogether he still would not take anything from the king of Sedom.
If so, where would Avraham Avinu get clothes and shoes from? Only from trusting in Hashem, so that what Avraham Avinu meant to say to the king of Sedom was that just as I trusted in Hashem to fight the four kings, so too I will continue to trust in Hashem in my everyday life to provide me with shoes and clothing.
On Pesach we bring the korban omer from the barley harvest, on Shavuos we bring the shtei halechem from the wheat harvest and we start bringing bikkurim which may be brought till Succos which is the chag ha’asif when all of the harvests of the year are completed.
When the benei yisrael are oleh le’regel, they show that even though the crops seem to grow naturally in the fields, this only occurs because Hashem makes them grow in order that we should have food.
Therefore in the merit of Avraham explaining to the king of Sedom that even his basic necessities such as shoes would come only from bitachon in Hashem, he merited that his children would be walk up to Yerushalayim in shoes to be oleh le’regel and show that all of their material wealth also comes only through trusting in Hashem.