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Hunkering Down or Heading Out?  

11/01/2023 10:42:18 AM


Rabbi Rudin

Abraham our Ancestor is not exactly a shrinking violet. When his nephew Lot is kidnapped among others by a large invading force, Abraham does not suffice with prayer. He assembles a small coalition and goes after the invaders.  Coming by night upon the overconfident army of the Mesopatamian invaders, Abraham and his allies drive them out of Canaan and rescue the hostages.  Upon his triumphant return, the locals want to make him high king over them all.  Abraham firmly refuses, returns the hostages to their homes and heads back to Be’er Sheva to continue to build his community, challenging the rule of the god-kings of the Near East with ethical monotheism.

Back in his small community, Abraham continues to challenge authority- even G-d’s. When G-d reveals to him that the Cities of the Plain, Sodom and Gomorrah, will be destroyed for their abysmal wickedness, Abraham does not hesitate to voice his opposition. “What if there are fifty righteous people in those cities? Will you destroy the innocent along with the wicked?  Far be it from You to do such a thing! Shall not the Judge of the whole world do justice?”

Abraham goes through tremendous trials: uprooted, confronting empires, land and water disputes, teaching and welcoming and community building, all the while building a legacy of a people and a covenant with a mysterious G-d who uncompromisingly demands faith, justice and compassion.

In the face of all of this, Abraham never goes to ground, never barricades himself, never isolates. Abraham gave the world a new kind of hope and that hope’s power and appeal is as needful now as it has always been.

We cannot allow the challenges to box us in, to silence or intimidate us. The world may be in the dark, but we must continue to bring the light.  As we prepare for the month of Kislev and Chanukah, let’s remember that even while Abraham faced challenges, he also found allies and friends, people of good will who welcomed and affirmed the message.

Hunker down and wait it out?  Not us- the Torah starts with the letter Bet, ב- Beresheet, In the beginning... The letter Bet you may notice is closed in all directions; there is no going back, no going over, no going under but only going forward.  That is the direction of the future, the direction that Abraham pioneered, the direction of the Jewish message and the future of humanity.

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784