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Because of Abraham

by Rabbi Myer Kripke

Most of us can look back on certain experiences of our lives and remember people who influenced us profoundly. Parents, perhaps, or teachers, or friends.

Nations and societies have those memories too. The glory of ancient Greece and the grandeur of ancient Rome still excite feelings of pride in the hearts of people who live in the lands where once Pericles lived, and Horace, and Cicero.

No wonder every Israeli is an amateur archeologist: he walks where David walked, and Isaiah.

And if that is all true, and I think it is, then what shall any Jew think when we open our Chumash, as we do this week, to read about Abraham?

Abraham was the great dissenter, who would not be satisfied with the beliefs and religious practices around him.

In his day, no one cared about it. But it is different with us, his spiritual descendants.

For Abraham’s life and career set in motion that intellectual and spiritual process that made the whole history of man meaningful. Isarel was always a small people. But it played a great part in the development of civilization.

If the piping voice of a Bar Mitzvah, or the cultured voice of a great cantor chants the Kiddush, thanking God for the Sabbath, it is because Abraham left Mesopotamia for the land of Israel.
If the resounding voice of freedom reverberates in the halls of Parliament, or Congress, or the Knesset, it is because of the insights of Abraham and his children after him.
If Jews the world over pray for, work for, plan for and hope for a better world of love and compassion and peace, it is because they are children of Abraham.

The spiritual history of mankind begins here. For with Abraham were the seeds of man’s greatness, man’s wisdom, and man’s visions.

Man’s comforts and man’s pleasures may lie in computers and rocketry and in the farthest reaches of chemistry and physics. But the greatness of soul which is man’s is found in the simple things which Abraham knew instinctively 4,000 years ago.