The Sedra open with Abraham’s first test. ” Go from your Land, the place of you birth and your fathers house to a place which I will show you.”

The order of Abraham’s instructions is wrong. In Julius Caesar act 3 scene two Anthony says ” Friends, Romans, Countrymen” that is the correct order. In Abraham’s case it should say, leave your father’s house then the place of your birth and then your land. The Aznaim L’Torah points out that a test has to be progressively more difficult. GCSE then A-Level then University. The words ” Land and place of birth” occur together when Jethro explains to Moses why he will not accompany the Jews into the land of Israel. There Rashi says Land means real estate, possesions, place of birth means family. G-d was therfore testing Abraham with progressive difficulties. Firstly leave behind all your possessions. Having passed that then leave your family. Abraham passed that now leave your father behind.
Abraham’s entire existence is bringing people close to G-d. Where could he be most successful but in his own country with those who understand him and whom he understands. G-d tells him to ignore his perceptions and concentrate on G-d instead.
There is an even greater question surrounding Abraham’s first test; why was it a test at all? G-d promises Abraham that by obeying he will have a child which till now he could not have ( both he and his wife were unable to have children Sarah had no womb ) He is promised great wealth and fame. Who wouldn’t do what G-d asks when promises such as these are on offer?
The real greatness of Abraham is revealed in this question’s answer. In verse 4 it says, ” And Abraham went as G-d had told him to go” Even though the greatest rewards were promised if he went he only went because G-d told him to go not for any other reason.

Rabbi Y Y Rubinstein has thrilled audiences from Jerusalem to Manchester and Johannesburg to Los Angeles. There are two reasons for his success. One is a mastery of sources in Jewish philosophy and his understanding of contemporary events. The other is his unique delivery…If you have the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom…do not miss it!

Rabbi Professor Dovid Gottlieb

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