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CALEV BEN DOR. Lech-Lecha: Who is Avram?.

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CALEV BEN DOR

Lech-Lecha: Who is Avram?

1 Now God said unto Abram: ‘Leave your country, and your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you will be for a blessing. 3 And I will bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' 4 So Abram went, as God had spoken to him; and Lot went with him; and Abram was seventy and five years old when he left Haran.

אוַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.  בוְאֶעֶשְׂךָ, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ, וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ; וֶהְיֵה, בְּרָכָה.  גוַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר; וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ, כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה.  דוַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָם, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלָיו יְהוָה, וַיֵּלֶךְ אִתּוֹ, לוֹט; וְאַבְרָם, בֶּן-חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה, בְּצֵאתוֹ, מֵחָרָן.  (בראשית יב)

After this mighty man was weaned, he began to explore and think. Though he was a child, he began to think [incessantly] throughout the day and night, wondering: How is it possible for the sphere to continue to revolve without having anyone controlling it? Who is causing it to revolve? Surely, it does not cause itself to revolve. He had no teacher, nor was there anyone to inform him. Rather, he was mired in Ur Kasdim among the foolish idolaters. His father, mother, and all the people [around him] were idol worshipers, and he would worship with them. [However,] his heart was exploring and [gaining] understanding.

Ultimately, he appreciated the way of truth and understood the path of righteousness through his accurate comprehension. He realized that there was one God who controlled the sphere, that He created everything, and that there is no other God among all the other entities. He knew that the entire world was making a mistake. What caused them to err was their service of the stars and images, which made them lose awareness of the truth. Abraham was forty years old when he became aware of his Creator. When he recognized and knew Him, he began to formulate replies to the inhabitants of Ur Kasdim and debate with them, telling them that they were not following a proper path. He broke their idols and began to teach the people that it is fitting to serve only the God of the world. To Him [alone] is it fitting to bow down, sacrifice, and offer libations, so that the people of future [generations] would recognize Him. [Conversely,] it is fitting to destroy and break all the images, lest all the people err concerning them, like those people who thought that there are no other gods besides these [images]. When he overcame them through the strength of his arguments, the king desired to kill him. He was [saved through] a miracle and left for Charan. (Rambam)

“The monotheists among us see in our Avram the inventor of monotheism. The rebels among us see in him the father of all young rebels and iconoclasts. The revolutionaries among us see in him the young man who first conceived the idea of building a new world. The yeshiva boys among us see in him someone who left the vanities of this world for a life of learning in the legendary Bet Midrash of Shem and Ever. And the halutzim (Zionist pioneers) among us see in him the first young Zionist who left his parents home, a promising career and a homeland and went to redeem the promised land. “(Ari Elon)

המונותיאיסטים שבינינו רואים באב-רם שלנו את ממציאו הצעיר והנועז של המונותיאיזם; המורדים שבינינו רואים בו את אבי אבות המורדים הצעירים ומנתצי האלילים; המהפכנים שבינינו רואים בו את הגבר הצעיר שהביא לעולם את בשורת "עולם ישן עד היסוד נחריבה"; בחורי הישיבה  שבינינו רואים בו את מי שעזב את כל הבלי העולם הזה לטובת תלמוד תורה בבית-מדרשם של שם ועבר; והחלוצים שבינינו רואים בו את הציוני הצעיר הראשון שהותיר מאחוריו בית אבא, קריירה ומולדת, והלך לגאול בעשר אצבעותיו את הארץ המובטחת.

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Between Self Identification and Self Worship

Abraham's family used to make images and sell them in the market. One day, when it was Abraham's turn to sell, his father Terah gave him several baskets of household gods and set him up in the marketplace. A man came to him and asked: Have you a god to sell? Abraham: What kind of god do you wish to buy? The man: I am a mighty man--give me a god as mighty as I am. So Abraham took an image that was standing on a shelf higher than all the others and said: Pay the money and take this one. The man asked: Is this god as mighty as I am? Abraham replied: You good-for-nothing! Don't you know the way of gods? The one who sits above all others is the mightiest of all. As the man was about to leave, Abraham asked him: How old are you? The man answered: Seventy years. Abraham said: Woe to a man who is seventy, yet prostrates himself before this thing which was made only today. At that, the man flung that god back into Abraham's basket, demanded the return of his money, and went his way.

Next came a widow, who said to Abraham: I am a poor woman--give me a god as poor as I am. At once Abraham took an image that was on a shelf lower than all the others and said: To suit your poverty, take this god who is humble, placed as he is on a shelf below all the others; but he will not budge until you pay me the money. [So she paid the price] and, as she was about to depart, he asked her: How old are you? She replied: Quite old. Abraham then said: May the breath of such a woman be blasted! To think that one so old prostrates herself before a god who is only one day old. She immediately dropped the god into the basket, got back her money from Abraham, and went her way.

Then Abraham took all the gods and brought them back to his father Terah. Terah's other sons said to their father: This Abraham does not know how to sell gods; come, then, and let us make him a priest. Abraham asked: What is a priest's work? They replied: He waits upon the gods, offers sacrifices to them, and serves them food and drink. So they made him priest. Abraham promptly set food and drink before the images and said to them: Come and eat, come and drink, so that you may be able to bestow good upon human beings. But not one of them took anything at all to eat or to drink. Then Abraham began to recite the verse "They have mouths but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not…" (Ps. 115:5-7).

A woman came carrying a bowl of fine flour and said: Here, offer it to the gods. At that, Abraham seized a stick, smashed all the images, and placed the stick in the hand of the biggest of them.When his father came, he asked: Who did this to the gods? Abraham answered: Would I hide anything from my father? A woman came with a bowl of fine flour and said: Here, offer it up to them. When I offered it, one god said, "I will eat first," and another said, "No, I will eat first." Then the biggest of them rose up and smashed all the others. His father replied: Are you making sport of me? They cannot do anything! Abraham answered: You say they cannot. Let your ears hear what your mouth is saying!Terah took hold of Abraham and turned him over to Nimrod.

"And told Abram the Hebrew (ha-ivri )" (Gen. 14:13). R. Judah used to say: [Ha-ivri, "he who is on the other side," signifies] the whole world was on one side, while he was on the other side (ever ).

''ויגד לאברם העִברי' ... רבי יהודה אומר: כל העולם כולו מעבר אחד והוא מעבר אחד'. בראשית רבה מ"ב, ח':

אני מנתץ משמע אני יהודי. אני הולך לי ממולדתי משמע אני יהודי שורשי. אני הולך לי מבית אבי משמע אני יהודי מאוד שורשי...

I break therefore I am a Jew. I leave my homeland and my parents’ home, therefore I am a rooted Jew.