October 30, 2009
Abraham the Seeker -by Rabbi Hyim Shafner
This week’s torah portion, Lech L’cha begins with God telling Abraham to leave his homeland and go, “to a place which I will show you.” According to the Ramban God took Avrom traveling for a long time from land to land. Why? As Rashi says, “in order to make your nature, (your personality), known in the world.” This nomadism at the beginning of Abraham’s building of our people was done in order to educate the world, for the families of the earth which Abraham was to be a blessing to, to learn from his nature.
But what does Rashi mean by Abraham’s nature? Why not say to learn from Abraham about monotheism or chesed, the things Avrom was known for? Perhaps the answer is that chesed and monotheism are intellectual and moral choices one makes; Avrohom’s nature that Rashi mentions perhaps refers to something else –Avrohom’s personality, his way of seeing the world.
The Rambam and the Midrash depict Abraham as someone who is perplexed by the universe, trying constantly to find the truth about its cause and maker. He is “mishotet b’daato” roaming in his mind. Avrohom’s actions were chesed, his theology was monotheism, but is tevah, as Rashi puts it, his nature and personality are to look for truth even if it means being an iconoclast, even if it means’ taking 40 years, as the Rambam says, to search the world to find the true meaning in it.
Let us learn from Avrohom this Shabbat to accentuate our true nature as a people, of searching and searching for truth, of not being satisfied with the status quo even if that status quo comes from our own communities and even if it comes with much pressure to conform.