The Missing Biography - לך לך

Friday, 27 October, 2023 - 12:45 pm


The Missing Biography

The story told in the Torah of Abraham the first Jew, begins when he was seventy-five years old. The Torah tells us that G-d told Abraham to leave his birthplace and travel to the land that G-d would show him: 

And the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you." (Genesis 12:1-3)

While the Midrash tells us a lot about Abraham's early history up to that point - how discovered G-d through his own intellectual inquiry and how he debated the local idolaters who, in turn, sought to kill him - in contrast the account in the Bible makes no mention of Abraham's early life, spiritual awareness, courage, and devotion to G-d. 

This missing story led Nachmonides the great 13th-century Biblical commentator, to point out that the story is missing important information:  

Now, this portion of Scripture is not completely elucidated. What reason was there that the Holy One, blessed be He, should say to Abraham, "Leave your country, and I will do you good in a completely unprecedented measure," without first stating that Abraham worshiped G-d or that he was a righteous man, [and] perfect?… But there is no reason for G-d to promise [Abraham a reward merely] for his leaving the country.

Nachmonides explains that the Torah omits Abraham's early biography because the Torah does not wish to draw attention to the mistaken opinions of the idolaters. Yet, that answer seems insufficient because the Torah could have briefly mentioned Abraham’s discovery of G-d without elaborating on the mistaken notions of his contemporaries. 

The story of Abraham is also the story of every Jew. The opening story of Abraham is also the beginning and foundation of our relationship with G-d. The Torah tells us that the bedrock of our connection to G-d cannot be intellectual inquiry or spiritual awareness because our mind is incapable of bridging the gap between finite creation and the infinite creator. The bond between a person and G-d, cannot be created by human effort; it can only be achieved through a commandment which, as the Hebrew word Mitzvah implies, means connection and togetherness. Only the infinite G-d can invest himself within a finite act of a Mitzvah.

This is a lesson for each of us. We may not feel inspired or enlightened; we may encounter someone who does not necessarily appreciate a connection to holiness, yet the act of a Mitzvah is transformational. For it allows us to connect with G-d Himself, transcending our finite nature and connecting to G-d's infinity. 

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Lekutei Sichos 25 Lech Licha 1 

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