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Beit Midrash Series Small and Sweet Ideas

10 trials of Avraham Avinu and 10 trials in the desert

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Chapter 5, Mishna 3, Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) mentions the 10 trials of Abraham.
Psalm 95 makes a reference to the lack of faith of the Israelites in God the desert and the 10 times that they tried God’s patience. Let’s see how they are connected and counter-acted.

10 trials of Abraham According to Rambam:
1) Abraham’s exile from his family and homeland.
2) The hunger in Canaan forced Abraham to go to down Egypt.
3) The abduction of Sarah by Pharaoh.
4) The war with the 4 kings to save Lot.
5) Abraham cohabitating with Hagar after Sarah’s request.
6) The circumcision of Abraham and his household.
7) Abimelech’s abduction of Sarah.
8) Driving away Hagar after she had given birth.
9) The very command to drive away Ishmael.
10) The binding of Isaac on the altar to be sacrificed.

10 trials of Abraham According to Rashi:
1) Abraham hid underground for 13 years from King Nimrod, who wanted to kill him.
2) Nimrod flung Abraham into a burning furnace.
3) Abraham was commanded to leave his family and homeland.
4) As soon as he arrived in Canaan, he was forced to leave to escape famine to Egypt.
5) Sarah was kidnapped by Pharaoh’s officials.
6) The 4 kings captured Lot, and Abraham went out to war to rescue him.
7) God told Abraham that his offspring would suffer exile and slavery for 400 years initially four monarchies.
8) At 99, Abraham was commanded to circumcise himself and his household.
9) Abraham was instructed to drive away Ishmael and Hagar.
10) He was commanded to sacrifice Isaac.

The 10 trials passed by Abraham were to build a credit so to speak, against the debt created by the Israelites in the desert as they lacked faith in the Almighty and tested his patience 10 times, as follows:
1. At the Reed Sea where it seemed that Pharaoh’s army would destroy them (Exodus 14:10-12)
2. At Marah where they found bitter water (Exodus 15:22-24)
3. In the Desert of Sin as they hungered (Exodus 16:1-3)
4. In the Desert of Sin as they paid no attention to Moses concerning the storing of the manna until the morning (Exodus 16:19-20)
5. In the Desert of Sin as they disregarded Moses concerning the gathering of the Manna on the 7th day (Exodus 16:27-30)
6. At Rephidim as they complained for water (Exodus 17:1-4)
7. At Mount Sinai as Aaron led the people in making the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-35)
8. At Taverah where the people raged against the Lord (Numbers 11:1-3)
9. At Kivroth Hattaavah in the grumbling provoked by the rabble for quail (Numbers 11:4-34)
10. At Kadesh in the Desert of Paran when the people refused to receive the good report of Joshua and Caleb but rather wished themselves dead (Numbers 14:1-3)

Kabbalistically speaking;
The 10 trials or sacrifices of Abraham were on the good side or the Tree of Life and its 10 positive Sefirot (divine channels). However, the 10 trials of God by the Israelites in the desert were on the side of the Sitra Achrah (the negative side, symbolised by the 10 negative Sefirot of the Tree of Death).
Rabbi Avraham (Abe) Abrahami
Rabbi Dr Abe Abrahami is a multi-discipline professional lecturer who travels the world. He teaches mystical Judaism, Torah and medicine, stress management, energy, finance, business ethics and much more. Author of several books and award winner.
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