Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Abraham's Simple Sincerity

And G-d said unto Abram: Go forth from your country, and your kindred, and from your father's house, unto the land that I will show you.
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you will be a blessing.
And I will bless those that bless you, and he who curses you will I curse; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'
(Genesis 12: 1-3)

Abraham is no longer a child; he is 75 years old. The Creator does not choose him by coincidence. After the creation of the world in the Torah portion of Breishit and the re-formatting of humanity in the Torah portion of Noach, G-d chooses Abraham to go to his unique Land and to give birth to the Nation with a unique task; to make the fact that G-d is King known to the entire world. Abraham was chosen for the starring role because he had already been the driving force behind one world revolution and had also survived the fires of Nimrod's furnace.

And now, at the age of 75, when a normal person is already retired and enjoying his grandchildren, the King of the world finally reveals Himself to Abraham. From here on in, it sounds like the going will be easy. All that Abraham has to do is to go to the Chosen Land, to grow, to be blessed and to merit the recognition of the nations.

But that is not what happens in reality. Famine, exile, his wife is abducted, internal wars and war with his surroundings - the entire Torah portion of Lech Lecha is almost the complete opposite of what Abraham was promised. At least through human eyes.

And then, at the age of 99, Abraham has another Divine revelation:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, G-d appeared to Abram, and said to him: 'I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be simply sincere.'(Genesis 17:1)

"Do not lose your simple sincerity," the King of the world says to the father of the Jewish nation. Even when 'reality' shows that there is no hope, and when the very opposite of what was promised happens, simple sincerity is the secret weapon that will make the blessing reality.

From then until this very day, the Jewish world belongs to the simply sincere. When G-d tells them to "go forth," they simply get up and go. All the rest; the Sadducees, Karaites, Reform, Hellenists, Enlightened, pragmatists and intelligentsia - appear on stage for a short time and then fall into the depths of forgotten Jewish history.

Sometimes, simple sincerity can be confused with passivity. "We will simply learn Torah and everything will work out," say some. Or: "We will simply build new settlements." Or: "We will simply become top officers in the army." Or: "We will simply play the political game." Or: We will simply make a lot of money and everything will work out." Each person seems to have a form of passivity that keeps him comfortable. But Abraham does not confuse simple sincerity with passivity. He teaches Torah, makes wars, builds the Land, is actively involved in politics, makes a lot of money and does not forgo any human endeavor. He keeps going all the time - but with simple sincerity as his guiding light.

Shabbat Shalom,

Moshe Feiglin

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