June 21, 2006

Hebrew: Avraham – First of the “Avot,” the “Founding Fathers” of the Jewish People. Father of the Jewish People in particular and, by the name change of Avram to Avraham declared by the Almighty to be the father, as well, of “a multitude of nations.” (Bereshit 17:4) He re-discovered Monotheism, the belief in only One G-d, one of, if not the fundamental concept of the Jewish Religion. This principle was known obviously by Adam, but forgotten by most of his descendants, who built their societies on the basis of idol worship, until Avraham. Avraham re-discovered Monotheism on his own, according to the Midrash at the age of forty (some say at the age of three!), by reflecting upon Nature, and asking the question, “Who is the Owner of the Palace?”

He went on to teach the idea of Monotheism with his wife, Sarah, wherever he went. He surmounted many challenges posed by G-d to test his faith, including the most severe, the “Akeidat Yitzchak,” the “Binding of Yitzchak” when Hashem commanded him to sacrifice his son, Yitzchak, as a sacrifice upon the altar. Unhesitatingly, he rose to the challenge and, together with Yitzchak proceeded to the sacrifice. Only at the last moment, with the knife raised for the slaughter, was Avraham called back by the Angel of G-d. The merit of this supreme test of faith, where the required act contradicted all previous teachings of logic and morality, is relied on by Avraham’s descendants, for all of our generations, especially on Rosh HaShanah.