The Lesson of Father Abraham

We do not know why Abraham is chosen. Later however, God describes the special nature of Abraham’s mission: “I have singled him out that he may instruct his children and posterity” (Gen. 18:19). In other words, God saw in Abraham the capacity to educate others. Abraham is the original influencer – a teacher.

What does Abraham’s conduct teach us? He does not leave home alone. For the journey to Canaan along with his wife Sarah, Abraham brings his nephew Lot. They each prosper in the new land and quarrels break out between their herdsmen. Abraham has been the force behind the move, but what he says to Lot is, let us separate. You may take whatever land you choose, and I will take the rest.

This act of material and spiritual generosity is a profound lesson. Abraham teaches us to give others the dignity of their own choices, to not always claim what is due to you, and to value peace. When there is conflict, in a family or in a nation, both gloating and recrimination make us weaker. Each side has its causes to advance and its field to tend. Compromise and understanding make us stronger. The voting is done. Now is the time to heal, as taught by our father Abraham.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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