A Higher Purpose - וירא

Friday, 3 November, 2023 - 11:04 am


A Higher Purpose 

Abraham led an extraordinary life. 

He discovered G-d on his own. He had the courage to go against the popular beliefs and notions of his time. And he changed the course of history. 

But how did Abraham keep busy on a daily basis?

The Torah tells us that Abraham's life’s focus was to "call in the name of Hashem", to teach people about G-d. 

In last week's portion, we read: 

"To the place of the altar that he had made at first, and Abram called there in the name of the Lord." (Genesis 12:4) 

and then again (12:8): 

"And he moved from there to the mountain, east of Beth el, and he pitched his tent; Beth el was to the west and Ai was to the east, and there he built an altar to the Lord, and he called in the name of the Lord." 

In this week's portion we read (21:33):

And he planted an Eishel {an orchard, or an inn} in Beer-Sheba, and he called there in the name of the Lord, the God of the world. 

Earlier in the Torah, we read the cryptic story of the tower of Babel. The people, who at that point spoke one language, sought to build a city and a tower that reached the heavens. G-d was displeased with their plan and confused their language, which caused them to disperse and develop into many nations and languages. What the story does not explicitly state is what was so terrible with their plan that caused G-d to be so disturbed by their effort. 

One interpretation is that they had no higher purpose in their life. In presenting their plan, the Torah states: 

And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make ourselves a name.

Their sole purpose was to "make a name" for themselves. They had no transcendent meaning in their life, nothing was greater than themselves. In addition to living a superficial life, being that their sole purpose was the advancement of self, there was no limit to what they would do to achieve that goal, setting aside morality and values. 

The Midrash teaches that at first, Abraham, like everyone else, was involved in the construction of the tower, completely and wholeheartedly devoted to the endeavor. Eventually, Abraham became disillusioned, and he abandoned the project. 

Abraham's search led him to focus on "the name of G-d" instead of "a name for ourselves". Abraham taught and shared with the world that we must incorporate spiritual values into our life. To live a life of decency, meaning, and joy, we must think about a purpose that is greater than ourselves. We must call in the name of Hashem.  

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Lekutei Sichos Noach vol. 3 

Comments on: A Higher Purpose - וירא
There are no comments.