Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:52

The Elements of Avraham’s Broad Impact


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Gemara: Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of Rabbi Yossi ben Zimra: How do we know that notrikon (reading words with each of their letters representing a word that begins with that letter) is from the Torah? It says in the Torah "Ki av hamon goyim netaticha" (I have made you [Avraham] a father for many nations) (Bereishit 17:5). From aleph of av, we learn: I made you [Avraham] a father for the nations. From bet of av, we learn: I made you the choice among the nations. From heh of hamon, we learn: I made you very beloved among the nations. From mem of hamon, we learn: I made you a king among the nations. From vav of hamon, we learn: I have made you venerable among the nations. From nun of hamon, we learn: I have made you a trustee for the nations.

Ein Ayah: Notrikon show that in addition to that which is written in the Torah explicitly, there is also a wealth of great ideas that flow from that which is not written in full. It is like the idea of notrikon itself – one word is written and from there we can figure out the part of the word that is not written.

In order to express this point, the Torah chooses a pasuk involving Avraham Avinu, which was said at the time that his name was changed from Avram to Avraham. Within Avraham’s essential being, the basis is the sanctity of Israel, as all of the forefathers including Avraham, are called Israel. However, part of Avraham’s being extends beyond the Nation of Israel and impacts, by means of his being, on all the world’s nations.

The impact can be separated into six elements. The first element is at the root, as every element of sanctity, theological truths, morality, and truth and justice that have always existed in the world’s nations are linked to Avraham, as their founding father as well. He was the groundbreaking spiritual leader who started teaching true belief in Hashem. This is hinted at in Avraham being the father of many nations.

The second part of Avraham’s influence was in his being consistently in a special compartment among the multitude of currents running within the nations. This is a unique characteristic of not mixing in with improper thoughts that the nations cling to. This is hinted at by the second letter – he was choice among the nations.

The third element is Avraham’s impact on knowledge of Hashem and the ways of justice that stem from the purity of belief. This is a swaying power within many people who feel great fondness towards ideals, for upright ideals are persuasive. In this vein, the gemara learns that Avraham was beloved among the nations.

The fourth part is the leadership role that was revealed through the sanctity of divine truth. This was the special lot of Avraham, who fought for truth against those in the world who dwelled within darkness and defeated them with the greatness of his truth. That is what is meant by being a king among the nations.

The fifth part is the content that impacts the actions and attributes and straightens them with the sanctity of philosophical truths. The spark that came from the light of Avraham had a moral impact on the world. It limited evil and drew the general life of the nations toward justice and true goodness. This is what is hinted at by Avraham being venerable.

The sixth element is the power of belief, which was a trait of Avraham, about whom it says: "He believed in Hashem, and [Hashem] considered it righteousness" (Bereishit 15:6). The power of belief that others experienced was an offshoot of Avraham’s internal strength, and it impacted on many generations, which kept the spark of belief within the nations going. It started with a general positive belief and turned into to a pure belief in Hashem. In this regard, the gemera says that Avraham was neeman [which can mean trusted or related to belief].
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