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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayera

Parashat Vayera

Three Stages

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The Rambam describes how Avraham came to recognize God through the beauty and symmetry of nature. My rebbi, Harav Tzvi Dov Kanatopsky zt"l noted that a careful reading of the Rambam reveals that Avraham employed three distinct methods of disseminating the doctrine of God's existence.

As a young man, Avraham arduously searched for the Almighty. When he was convinced of God's existence, he wanted to share his hard earned discovery with his contemporaries who had been led astray by idolatrous images and figures. He engaged them in debate, declared that their lifestyle was founded on errors and became an iconoclast, orchestrating the destruction of his father's idols. So intellectually overpowering was Avraham that the reigning potentate, Nimrod, attempted to kill him. In Ur Kasdim, he didn't build altars or produce disciples. The first stage, fraught with danger and tension, ends with a fugitive Avraham escaping to Charan.

In Charan, Avraham became an itinerant preacher and lecturer, wandering from place to place and traversing a significant portion of the civilized world. He built altars either as a locus for prayer or as a forum to articulate his ideas.

The third most illustrious stage took place in Eretz Canaan. There he planted an Eishel which epitomized Avraham as the quintessence of Chesed. Here he became the teacher par excellence who is an exemplar of Chesed while simultaneously dialoguing with his contemporaries, sensitive to each individual. The Rambam describes how Avraham wined and dined his sought after guests. These characteristic acts of Chesed deeply effected the hearts and minds of listeners, generating thousands of adherents and devotees. This third methodology was eminently successful.

In his sojourns, Avraham had metamorphosed from a young iconoclast, to an itinerant preacher and finally in Eretz Yisroel to a model of Chesed. Avraham had embarked on a journey of self discovery. His odyssey reached its climax when the 'Brit of Chesed' became his overriding guideline. Therefore the Torah only briefly and cryptically alludes to the first two stages of his career; the ultimate stage, a life of Chesed, was only realized in the land that Hashem had promised him.

Eretz Yisroel is truly a country whose quintessence is Chesed and whose guiding spirit is the Eishel planted by Avraham that spread its roots far and wide. May we exemplify these ideals of Chesed and thereby continue to enhance the inner beauty of Eretz Yisroel.

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