1: We are born to withstand trials
We are made by ELKM, the JUDGE, to withstand a life-long chain of trails. As long we live, we move from one trial to the next. Most often, the trial is rooted in the very thing that ELKM has blessed us with. A wealthy person would be tested by what he would do with his wealth. A socially powerful person would be tested by what he would do with his power.
We learn this from Abraham. He was blessed, but also tested by the same blessings. His life is one chain of trials, at least ten in numbers, where a blessing serves a premise for the next test. The most known test is the last one: After so many years of being barren, he begot Isaac. It was certainly a blessing, but also the base for the next test: The Binding of Isaac on the Altar on Mount Moriah.
Last class we learned that Abraham, a son of an artist, saw himself as a vessel made by the CREATOR-ARTIST (Midrash.) As such, it can be hardened and improved by his life-long trials. The vessel may fail the text and break down, but it may harden by winning the test.
And when that happens, when the vessel wins and gets harder, it would ABSORBE the CREATOR’S Light and Blessing. A weak, translucent vessel, would only allow the Blessing to pass through it, without leaving any impact.
Those metaphors are crucial for the understanding of Abraham’s faith, and the fate and history of Abraham’s seeds, Israel.
The first test took place in Abraham’s hometown. As its name Ur, Oven, suggests, Abraham and his brother Haran, were thrown alive into an burning oven, for the ‘crime’ of teaching the Seven Commandments of Noah.
We are fortunate to live in the USA, the first country to recognize the Seven Laws of Noah as the base of our moral fabric. But in Abraham’s time, teaching Noah’s Laws was considered a major crime against the public peace, punishable by death. Not differently than the Roman Empire forbidding the teaching of the Torah, because it threatened Pax Romana.
Miraculously, Abraham survived the burning oven but his brother Haran perished. Winning his first text, Abraham drew many ‘converts’ who left IDOLATRY and adapted his belief in the CREATOR-ARTIST-OWNER. They also adhered to Noah’s Seven Commandments. Remember that Abraham knew Noah and Shem and he was familiar with the concepts of ELKM, YHVH, and Oneness. He knew the story of Genesis that come down to him from Adam to Enosh to Noah
It is not true that Abraham was the first to introduce Monotheism. Our sages said that the Abraham was the first to call YHVH ELKM as AaDoNai, My Master, My Owner. He was the first to believe that he is a vessel made by the Owner of the Universe, to whom he surrendered his life. He was the first to see himself as a Salve to G-d, hence the circumcision which is placing the emblem of My Master in my flesh. We’ll learn that later in more details.
2: Go to wherever I will show you
Abraham won his first text of martyrdom, and was blessed by many followers. But that arose the wrath of the local king who condemned the entire group to exile, in the name of “public peace.” One winning turned into the base of the next trial.
Tradition says that Abraham’s father, Terach, planned on moving from Ur to Harahan, Syria. The family and their followers lived there till the death of Terach. The Midrash says that they lied in Haran successfully and the place was peaceful and rich. Abraham could have stayed there forever, had he not noticed how corrupt the locals were due to their wealth and tranquility. Again, one blessing became a source for the next trial. While in Haran, YHVH appeared to Abraham the first time saying:
“ (1)Go for yourself
(2) out of your country
(3) And out of the land where you were born
(4) And out of your father home
(5) And go to the land that I shall show it to you…”(Genesis 11: 31)
The verse poses Abraham with increasingly harder five successive tests:
1. It is hard to leave a wealthy place and go
2. It is harder to leave one’s country
3. It is even harder to leave one’s birth place
4. And it is even harder to leave the father’s home
5. And it is extremely hard to go BLINDLY to a place that YHVH would show.
Some say that YHVH had appeared to him back in his birthplace Ur. Others say that his birthplace was indeed Haran in Syria, and that his father had immigrated to Ur. They were exiled from Ur, and came back to Syrian. This is why YHVH tells Abraham to leave his father home and birthplace and move to the Place Which I shall Show it to You.
Abraham would face a set of blessings and trials, as YHVH continues saying:
3: YHVH’s blessings
(1) “And I will make you a great nation
(2) "And I‘ll bless you
(3) "And I’ll make your name great
(4) "And you’ll become a blessing
(5) "And I’ll bless those who bless you
(6) "And I’ll curse those who will curse you
(7) "And all the families of the Earth will be blessed IN you.” (Genesis 12:1-4.)
Abraham, the rabbis said, is like a vessel loaded with good aroma. Keep the vessel in place, and the aroma wouldn’t spread. Stir the vessel by moving it around and its aroma would spread all over the place.
As you can see, the verses are studded with many ‘Blessings; an ‘explosion’ of Blessings! They are.
1. Go to yourself
“Go to yourself….” Such a paradox! To be a blessing for the entire world, Abraham should go to…himself!
Some explains that the verse should be read: Go, for the benefit of yourself. Others see this as a command: be true to yourself, your true identity. Know yourself! It is a command that stands alone, wherever Abraham would physically dwell. Abraham, and alter his seeds Israel, may wonder around in the world. They should never forget who they are and forever remain true to their own identity. This verse is a prelude to Abraham travelling and tribulations.
But other commentaries see this as a necessary step one, before attempting to affect the community. Beautify yourself first, then others.
Other commentaries see this as an introduction to the rest of the verses: IN ORDER to go to yourself, you must go to the Holy Land. Only there your self would come out to the surface. Only in the Holy Land you would fulfil your ‘self’ and be a blessing to the whole world.
How true! only in the Holy Land, Abraham’s seed Israel would compose spiritual treasures: The Bible, the Mishnah and then the Jerusalem Talmud. The verse here heralds an eternal special connection between Abraham’s Tree and the Land of Israel, a connection that would bear fruits like no other Tree. So many other people have occupied the Holy Land for thousands of years, yet they have produced no fruits, no spiritual work of any importance.
Blessing 2, 3,4: Children, Wealth and Fame
(2) “And I will make you a great nation” with many children
(3) “And I will bless you” with material wealth
(4) “And I will make your name great” with fame
These three blessings are important to travelers, since they tend to lose them (Rashi)
But note that each step, each blessing can serve as a base for the next trial.
Blessings 5, 6, 7
(5) Be a blessing! Your good aroma will spread all over the world.
(6) "And I will bless those who bless you,”
(7) “And I will curse those who curse you.”
How true! Those Nations that support Israel, will prosper; those who hate Israel, will be doomed.
In fact, Israel is like a litmus test. Any nation that supports Israel is a righteous society, peaceful and prosperous. A nation that hates Israel is a failure, both morally and physically.
History shows that the great Empires: Persia, Greek, Rome Spain, Germany, West Europe and the USA prospered while supporting Israel. The first sign of their decalin is becoming Jew hater. Look ar Spain! Look at Portugal! Look at the Ottoman Empire!
blessing 7: Those who lean or are grafted on Abraham’s tree
Last line says: (7) “And all the families of the Earth will be blessed in you.”
The verse says “blessed IN you,” rather than ‘blessed BY you.’
In Hebrew, Bless, ’ ba-rech’, also means ‘grafted,’ like a brunch of a tree grafted on another tree.
And it can also be read as ‘those who kneel on you.’
In other words,
YHVH will bless those who either lean on Abraham’s tree, spiritually speaking,
Or be ‘grafted’ on Abraham’s tree and join his seeds, Israel.
An example: Ruth the Moabite who was grafted on Abraham’s tree, despite all odds.
Her reward: King David!
Those were YHVH’s Blessings to Abraham. Now he would journey in the Holy Land, facing trials and tribulations, all evolving around…THEFT, ABDUCTION and SLAVERY!
END OF THEFT 6