Lech Lecha – Genesis 12:1 – 17:27 – The Parashat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, November 9, 2019

Abraham is not just the first member of the Jewish people.  Along with Sarah, his inseparable partner, he is also a moral exemplar.

Despite his conflicts with his nephew Lot, when Lot is taken prisoner Abraham rescues him at great personal risk. When God explains that Sodom and Gomarah will be destroyed because of their wickedness, Abraham argues with God to spare the cities for the sake of the righteous who live there. (By the way, according to our sages Sodom and Gemarah’s evil is not sexual immorality, but rather their lack of hospitality to strangers, something we Americans might do well to pay attention to.)

Yes, Abraham has huge blind spots. He will deny his marriage to Sarah to save his life and seems all too willing to sacrifice his two sons Ishmael and Isaack.

But Abraham is not a superhero or a saint; he is a human being. All human beings have strengths and weaknesses.

That is why the stories of our ancestors in the Tanakh are so powerful. They are human and we can relate to them. The message of Abraham’s behavior is that we must have empathy for others, care about those in distress and stand up for what we believe to be right, even if it means we argue with God.

We would do well to emulate those parts of his behavior.