Abraham in his life time endured ten great challenges. He withstood them all. (Pirkei Avos 5)
Abraham was not the first human being to be tested by G-d. Adam and Eve were also tested; but they were not able to stand up to God’s test. The generations following Adam were all tested; they too could not withstand Gods test. The generation of Noach, and even Noach, were all tested and failed.
It took twenty generations, two thousand years, until God finally found a man that could take the challenge.
What was the essence of the challenges that no one until Abraham was able to withstand?
Abraham’s appearance on the Biblical scene is unlikely, almost random. His family and community were pagan. No one taught him how or what to believe. The first appearance of Abraham, as Abraham, was when seemingly out of nowhere God commanded Abraham to leave his home, friends, society and everything that identified his character and go it alone. It was almost as if Abraham was asked to leave himself behind. From that moment on, Abrahams life was marked and defined by trials and tribulations. Abraham endured ten great challenges of Biblical proportion – and maybe thousands of the day to day challenges typical in the life of a man of faith.
What was God seeking that He could only find in Abraham?
God scanned the generations searching for a man that sees himself as being created in Gods image, in God’s world, not his. He was searching for a man that understood that his reason for being created was to serve God, and not to serve himself. He was searching for a man that was able to take his own benefit out of the equation whenever a decision needed to be made.
While traveling through the challenges that God put before him, Abraham proved himself. ‘It’s not about me and my wellbeing; it’s about being ready to deny, if need be, my personal comfort, my future, my own thinking, and even my identity to do the will of God.
In Adam, Eve and Noach God found believers, to be sure, but not heroes. God looked everywhere but couldn’t find a hero.
Then there was Abraham. God said, ‘Maybe he is my man.’ and the tests began.
“… Abraham came and withstood them all.” Abraham did it. Can we?
Abraham began a legacy for his children and our children throughout all generations. When God calls we do not ask why, we do not ask God about the reward or the benefit package.
As children of Abraham – we are asked to be heroes.
This week’s Dvar Torah is dedicated by my friend Jeff Zucker to the memory of his beloved mother, Ita bat Shalom, a”h.
She shares her Yartzeit with Rochel Imeinu on Shabbos Lech Lecha, 11 Cheshvan. May her neshama have an aliya.