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Parshot Festivals

Let trust be the message this Shabbat

  • ParshaRabbiSamThurgood
This parsha continues with what Rashi (in his commentary to Gemara Gittin) calls Megillat Avraham, the Scroll of Abraham. The story of our great patriarch Avraham and matriarch Sarah takes place over 14 chapters in the Torah and certainly merits the title Megillah in its own right. The question, however, is: What is special about Avraham that he suddenly becomes this primary character in the story that Hashem tells us through the Torah?
by Rabbi Sam Thurgood, Beit Midrash Morasha | Nov 14, 2019

Although the Midrashim and Gemarot contain famous oral traditions regarding Avraham discovering the truth of G-d unassisted, smashing the idols in the father’s shop and more, there must be a core truth that we can extract from reading the revealed Torah as it is presented to us. I believe that the essence of the role that Avraham plays can be summed up in one word: trust. Avraham was one who trusted Hashem, and who was trusted by Hashem.

In contrast with Adam, who, seemingly five minutes after being given one instruction regarding the fruit of the tree of knowledge, disregards that instruction and eats the fruit, Avraham withstands 10 trials (as we learn in Pirkei Avot chapter 5), and emerges greater than ever. Why is Avraham tested? I propose that it is through testing the relationship that trust is both created and emerges. So often in life we struggle to “let go and let G-d”, to release the problems that we cannot solve anyway, and ask Hashem for help.

But, equally often, we fail to be trustworthy to Hashem – to use all that He has given us in his great kindness in the way in which He intended it. Recently, someone confided to me that although they rarely attend shul, they do visit G-d’s beaches and G-d’s mountains frequently over Shabbat. “Wonderful that you appreciate these wonders of Hashem’s creation,” I said, “but are you using them as the Giver intended?” In other words, are you a trustworthy recipient?

The beauty of the relationship between Avraham and Hashem is that when Hashem calls upon Avraham, he is ready and he responds. And when Avraham needs Hashem, He is there for him too. This week’s parsha takes that dynamic a step further – Avraham is not only trustworthy in his religious life, he is a trustworthy friend. Seeing strangers in the desert, he runs to assist them and take care of them. In turn, they bless him with a son. The open-hearted way in which Avraham engages with all, risking disappointment and rejection (and at times experiencing both), earns him his place as a firm friend of Hashem and of humanity.

This Shabbat is the Shabbat Project, in which we join with over one million Jews around the world in keeping Shabbat. It is a day which ideally combines all these great forms of trust. We demonstrate our trust in Hashem by letting go of our weekday work, worries and plans. We show our trustworthiness by using the gift of Shabbat as intended. And we show that we are trusted friends by sharing Shabbat together, inviting people over and learning together what Shabbat means and how it blesses us.

I trust that you will have a wonderful Shabbat!

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