Hebrew History – Part 3

Civilization began at the bottom of the Tigris & Euphrates Rivers. This is where we think Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) was located, approximately at the northwestern tip of Kuwait. Abram was born in Mesopotamia, Ur of the Chaldees, to be exact. It was a busy bustling cosmopolitan center. A place of many idols and idol-worshippers. Abram was born into such a family. His father, Terah, was an idol maker.

When we first meet Abram, he is already 75 years old, married – no children. We know nothing of his early life, his hopes, his dreams. We know only that he was different. Abram chose to worship the one and only true G-d. G-d, Himself, spoke to Abram and called him out. He was an idealist, an optimist, an uncompromiser! He probably saw things as black or white with little gray in between. He had a drive to change to world – for the better. This is a typical Jewish characteristic. Notice how many Jews are doctors, teachers and leaders. They have been awarded a disproportionate number of Nobel prizes for their intellectual contributions. This is the Jew I see – one who strives to make things better.

G-d said to Abram, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land I will show you.” Brisheet (Genesis) 12:1. Your home is where your heart is. As you grow older, you have a tendency to have many dreams about your childhood home – the place of safety and good times. There is no place like the old “hometown”…. And Abram was asked – ordered – to leave and begin a very strange and different life than he had ever known. He was to leave the comforts of home, the family money, the prestige and social standing of his family. G-d said again, to Abram, “I will make you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great; and you will be a blessing. “ Bresheet 12:2

G-d did not leave him with nothing – he gave him a hope and a future. All he had to do was believe.

17th Century Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher was once asked by King Louis, IV, for proof of the supernatural. He replied, “The Jewish people, your majesty.” This is true. They have been a nation with a unique mission and ministry. They have a unique history as well. Things happen to the Jews that don’t happen to other peoples. They are unique and special. G-d’s chosen. G-d also told Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” Bresheet 12:3.

This is one of the great patterns of history. The nations that have blessed the Jews, have prospered, those who have dealt cruelly with them have suffered and most have disappeared. Great Britain was once an unstoppable world power. When I was a child, they bragged, “The sun never sets on the Union Jack.” their flag. During the difficult days in the 30s and 40s, they prevented the return of many Jews to Israel, their true homeland, and caused the deaths of many. England has never recovered! They lost all of their colonies, much of their income and have little to say in the affairs of running the world.

The Jewish people have had an incredibly positive impact on the world, contributing values that are now linked with democracy – respect for life, justice, equality, peace, love, education and social responsibility. Although that appears to be changing! Abram’s journey through life is a microcosm of what Jewish history is all about.

Next Shabbat – The Promised Land

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom
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