Midreshet Amit


Back to Main Page


By: Suri Brach

It is ten generations after Noach has died and the world, once again, has turned to idolatry. Avraham is the exception. He is the only person in the world at the time that believes in monotheism.

This week’s Parsha, Parshat Lech Lecha, opens with Hashem saying to Avraham, “Leave your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Rabbi Yehoshua Berman points out that when Hashem commands this to Avraham, He is not only commanding him to move geographically but also to move himself out of the society from which he has come. Avraham is forced to spiritually remove himself from his home, meaning he has to disconnect himself from his childhood, his family (except Sarah and Lot), and essentially all impurities.

As the Parsha ends, Hashem seals the covenant by commanding Avraham to do another two strange acts, to change his name and to give himself and the male members of his household a Brit Milah. Avraham, at the age of 99, does both of these tasks without question. Throughout the Parsha we see how Avraham constantly proves his loyalty to Hashem by fulfilling all of His strange commands.

Avraham is one of the most influential people who ever lived. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks cites a study that today 2.4 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, and 13 million Jews all claim Avraham as their ancestor. Avraham wasn’t a king, didn’t have many followers, and wasn’t a general of an army. So you might ask yourself: how did he accomplish this? The answer is that he was a leader who was prepared to be different. Being a leader means being prepared to stand out. Avraham constantly listened to Hashem’s crazy commands while being the only person in the world who believed in monotheism.

We are under the wrong impression when it comes to idolatry. When we hear the word idolatry we automatically thinks of olden day and obsolete little statues and figures when in reality idolatry is all around us. We should think of idolatry as anything with power and anything that has the ability to change our minds or decisions. This includes celebrities, trends, social media, or anything society expects of us. Avraham fought against idolatry by placing himself outside the society in which he grew up.

To be a leader is the willingness of someone to stand strong despite what everyone else is doing, while to be a Jew is the willingness of someone to fight against idolatry. There is a reason that Jews have a disproportionate number of leaders. To be a Jew means that you are willing to be different and not fall into new trends, which may be interpreted as idolatry. As Jews we are constantly expected to follow and admire Avraham’s willingness to be a leader.

Just like Avraham, this year we physically left behind our comfortable homes to move to the very same land that God sent Avraham to. We too arrived with the hopes of spiritually growing and learning to be leaders. By coming to Israel we are following in Avraham’s footsteps, both literally and spiritually. We hope this year to follow Avraham’s lead and grow in our commitment to following God’s commands even if it means standing out.