Ten generations after Noah God begins to create a world within the world as Abraham, at age 75, receives a calling from God to “a place that I will show you.” His response changes the course of history.
Over the last two parshot we studied the creation of the world. In B’reishit God created the world where mankind (Adam and Eve) were caretakers of God’s creation. But after ten generations “the earth became corrupt before God, the earth was filled with violence…” (Gen. 6:11) Mankind had been given the ability to choose, make decisions, decide between, what in God’s plan, was right and wrong, good and evil. God saw that “the human mind inclines to evil from youth onward…” (Gen. 8:21)
At this time the Eternal decided to start over. A flood covered the earth, destroying everything except Noah, his family, and a massive collection of animals, birds, reptiles, and insects. With this collection of people and animals, the world was reborn. This was, in effect, a second creation. Things were different this time. Man was given a greater role in the world. After the flood, man was allowed to hunt and eat animals. With this change, man had more control over the world…… Then, God gave mankind the Noahide laws to control man’s evil instincts. These laws prohibited murder, theft, sexual promiscuity, and idolatry. They also suggested that other just laws be established.
After another ten generations, the Eternal again saw a world that was not as planned. But now, instead of creating a whole new world, God focused on a single man and his family – Abram, later to be renamed Abraham. (Gen. 12:1) This plan to move mankind toward the better world was not immediate. It would span several generations…. From Abram/Abraham to Moses and beyond. This is the story we will follow through the rest of Torah. In this… what can be considered the third creation … God works to create the partnership in which God has the power to create all that is in the world and mankind is given the responsibility to maintain, repair, and improve the world. (Tikkum Olam).
This new world begins with a call to a single man – Abram. “The Eternal One said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and it shall be a blessing. I will bless you, and I will pronounce doom on those who curse you; through you all the families of earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1 -3)
Abram/Abraham was 75 years old at the time of this calling. Not much is said about his past; but, we can assume he had some wealth from the following: When Abram decided to follow the Eternal to “land that I will show you”, he “took his wife Sarai/Sarah, his brother’s son Lot, all the possessions that had amassed, and the people they had acquired in Haran.” (Gen. 12:5) I assume the acquired people were slaves …. But, some commentators say they were people who followed Abram’s concepts of God. Either way he had wealth and/or influence.
To me, this is one of the most powerful moments in Torah. A single man, changes the direction of his life and though his actions, has a major effect on the future of mankind.
I don’t know if Abram heard the actual voice of God… or if he heard that small, quiet voice within each of us. But he heard it … and acted upon it.
I am nearly the same age as Abram when he received this calling. Abram was 75. He had his whole life behind him. I assume that he had the resources to decide his future.
Abram thought and decided to change direction…. Start a new life …
Many people, upon reaching this age … retirement age (usually between 60 and 70) … are faced with a similar challenge. They most likely do not get the strong message that Abraham received. But, they face a similar challenge. Assuming that a person is still in good health (and today, most are) that person can choose to continue as before, stop – and do nothing, or take on new challenges….. This new direction could be one of self pleasure after a busy lifetime …. It could be a path of self-improvement .… Or a path toward working to help others and improving the world in which they reside through volunteer work or new directions of employment.
I doubt anyone receives a message with the power of Abram’s call. But, most of us hear that small, quiet voice from within. That’s when the struggle begins…. A chapter of our lives is over…. We can start a new chapter…. What direction should it take? There is no right of wrong answer. And, I believe, with some people this can be an easy answer. With others, it becomes a real struggle. I understand this situation. I relate to Abram and the thoughts that he must have had after receiving this call.
I don’t know whether Abram/Abraham actually existed, or not. But, I do know that this moment exists for many. And I greatly admire the path Abram/Abraham took.
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