Friday, November 10, 2006

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The Greatness of Avraham

A guest post from Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel...

Just how great was our father Abraham?

Hashem appeared to our fathers Abraham, Yitzchak and Yacov and later to the Children of Israel a number of times. To our fathers He appeared six times and to the Children of Israel six times.

Of the six times that He appeared to our fathers three were to Abraham. The first time Hashem appeared it was to Abraham (Gen. 12:7). At this time Hashem promised Abraham that He would give the land of Israel to his offspring. The second time, Hashem also appeared to Abraham. (Gen. 17:1) This time He promised Abraham that He would increase him “most exceedingly.” The third time Hashem appeared to Abraham it was unto Abraham and this came on the third day after Abraham circumcised himself. (Gen. 18:1)

Hashem appeared to Yitzchak twice. Both of these times the Torah states that Hashem appeared unto Yitzchak and not to him. The first time (Gen. 26:2) Hashem told him not to descend to Egypt and that He would bless him and establish the oath that He swore to Abraham. The second time He told him that He was going to bless him and increase his offspring because of Abraham. (Gen. 26:24)

Hashem appeared to Yacov once, but the Torah tells us that this revelation was of Elokim appearing to Yacov. (Gen. 35:9) The text there says that Hashem appeared to Yacov again but the first time He revealed Himself to Yacov it was in a dream. (Gen. 28:13) This was the famous dream of “Yacov’s ladder” that came when he was running away from his brother Esau. This time (Gen. 35:9) Hashem appeared to Yacov when he was returning from his father-in-law Lavan. Hashem appeared as Elokim to Yacov and blessed him. The revelation of the Name Hashem is a much greater revelation than the revelation of the Name Elokim.

Later, regarding the Israelites, the Torah states that an angel of Hashem appeared onto Moshe in the “burning bush.” (Ex. 3:2)

After Moshe and Aaron blessed the people the glory of Hashem appeared to the people. (Lev 9:23)

Later when Korach challenged Moshe and Aaron the glory of Hashem appeared to the entire assembly. (Num. 16:19)

Soon after Korach’s rebellion “when the assembly gathered against Moshe and Aaron they turned to the Tent of meeting . . . and the glory of Hashem appeared.” (Num 17:7)

Some time latter the entire assembly gathered against Moshe and Aaron. Moshe and Aaron went to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and “ . . . the glory of Hashem appeared to them.” (Num 20:6)

Much latter when Moshe was about to die he was told to summon Joshua and stand in the tent of Meeting so Hashem could instruct Joshua, and “Hashem appeared in the Tent in a pillar of cloud.” (Duet. 31:15)

So we see that whenever Hashem appeared to the Children of Israel it was either in a cloud, or it was His glory, or as an angel. While with Yacov it was Hashem appearing as Elokim and the two times Hashem appeared to Yitzchak it was unto him and not to him. These experiences of unto him were not as direct as Abraham’s experiences, which were to him. Not only did Hashem appear to Abraham more times than to Yitzchak or to Yacov but with Abraham two of the three times it was to him and only the third time was it unto him. Also, both times that He appeared to Yitzchak Hashem said that it was because of Abraham.

No one in the entire Torah experienced the revelations that our father Abraham experienced. Not even Moshe our teacher. What was so special about Abraham that he merited such wonderful revelations?

This week’s portion lists some of the tremendous challenges that Abraham faced. Any one of them would be enough to fill a lifetime of struggle. The Torah lists at least ten of them. Yet, given all of these great tests (all of which Abraham passed) still he is not known for passing tests. He is known for his kindness and his effort in bringing others to the true knowledge of G-d.

Most certainly you and I could not withstand such tests, but we can be kind and bring someone closer to understanding G-d and His ways.

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From Mystical Paths, MPATHS.COM. Reading it somewhere else? See it there, click.

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