The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Friday, 6 November, 2015 - 1:12 pm

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Abraham is, undoubtedly, one of the most successful people in history. He began with an idea that pitted him against the entire world. He was called Abraham the Hebrew - etymologically the word Hebrew means “from the other side” - not just because he arrived in Israel from the other side of the river, but because, figuratively, he was “on the other side” of society’s belief system. While society was pagan, only Abraham was the Hebrew, “on the other side”, the outcast the believer in one G-d.  

Today, three millenniums later, Abraham’s ideas succeeded in becoming mainstream. A majority of the world’s population, more than 3.8 billion people, consider themselves adherents to an Abrahamic religion.

How did Abraham view his achievements during his lifetime? What did he see as his mission, and how did he evaluate his accomplishments?  

In this week's Parsha we read about Abraham dispatching his servant Eliezer to the Land of Charan to find a wife for his son Isaac. While instructing Eliezer about the details of his mission, Abraham assures Eliezer that G-d will help him succeed in finding a proper match for Isaac. Abraham says:

The Lord, God of the heavens, Who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth, and Who spoke about me, and Who swore to me, saying, 'To your seed will I give this land' He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.  [1]

Rashi, the classic commentator of the Torah, is intrigued by Abraham’s description of G-d. In this verse Abraham refers to G-d only as the “G-d of heavens”, yet in an earlier verse Abraham refers to G-d as the “the God of the heaven and the God of the earth”. Why the change? Rashi explains that Abraham was telling Eliezer:  

“Now He is the God of the heaven and the God of the earth, because I have made Him familiar in the mouths of the people, but when He took me from my father’s house, He was the God of the heavens but not the God of the earth, because mankind did not acknowledge Him, and His name was not familiar on the earth.” [2]

Abraham is telling Eliezer that when he first heeded G-d’s calling, leaving his father’s home and journeying to what would become the land of Israel, G-d was only the G-d of the heavens. Now,  after decades of work in the land of Israel, G-d is not only the G-d of heaven but he is also the G-d of the earth, he is at home not only in heaven but also on earth.

This is Abraham’s achievement. Abraham is not satisfied with a G-d in heaven, Abraham wants G-d to be felt right here on earth.

Each of our lives is comprised of "heaven" and "earth". There are moments when we are in "heaven", we are connecting to spirituality. praying, performing acts of kindness, studying Torah, and feeling connected to the Divine.

Then, there are the "earth" moments. Moments when we feel that our existence is mundane. we may be at work, eating lunch, running errands, sitting in traffic, and the list goes on.

Abraham teaches us that the essence of Judaism is to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. The message of Judaism is that G-d wants to feel at home not only in heaven but also on earth. that we can and should infuse our earthly activities with spirituality and meaning.

Abraham teaches us, that to be a Jew is to experience that G-d is "God of the heaven and the God of the earth". [3]


[1] Genesis 24:7.

[2] Rashi Genesis 24:7 

[3] Based on the teachings of the Rebbe, Shabbat Chayey Sarah, 5739. 

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