As ‘founding father,’ Abraham offers example we can follow


The first 11 chapters of Genesis contain messages for all humanity — they are universal “history.”

Their essential message is that God is the all-powerful Creator as described in the first chapter. An ancillary message is that there are dire consequences when humans disobey God.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

This is clear in the following stories: Adam and Eve are punished for eating the forbidden fruit; the generation of Noah is destroyed for their ongoing evil; those who built the Tower of Babel were scattered and confused because of their attempt to overthrow God.

The rest of the Tanach deals with the relationship between God and Israel.

Israel is really what the Bible is all about. The basis for the remainder of the Bible is established in the sedra, Lech L’cha, essentially in the first verses of Genesis 12.

Since Abraham is our founding father, we as his descendents, are to follow his example. God tells him to leave his native land for a place which God would select. Though leaving one’s homeland and family must be heart-wrenching, Abraham obeys without raising a question. He does the same when God calls him to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

As our model, we, too, are called upon to listen to God and do what He demands.

That there is to be a special relationship between God and the children of Abraham is clear when God declares that He will make of them a “great nation” and that He would bless them. He also assures them that He would protect them, rewarding those who bless Israel and cursing those who would mistreat Israel.

Equally significant, Israel is called upon “to be a blessing.” It is chosen for a special mission, to be of help to others. Finally, Israel is to be given “The Promised Land.” This would be God’s special gift to the Israelites.

The remainder of the Tanach is the acting out of the introduction in Genesis 12. Amazingly, the ideas therein contained remain pertinent to the Jewish people until this day. The Torah lives on as an ongoing guide and inspiration for us.

Rabbi Joseph R. Rosenbloom, of Temple Emanuel, is a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association.