This parashah introduces us to Abraham. We are told how he was called out of Ur and traveled to a place he did not know, trusting in the Lord to guide him. His travels led to Egypt during a famine, where Sarah was taken as wife to the Pharaoh but not shamed because God intervened (this happened twice during Abraham’s travels, mainly because to protect his life he had Sarah say she was his sister. )
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Having taken his nephew, Lot, with him they found their individual possessions intermixing and so, in order to maintain peace between them, Abraham asked Lot to choose which way he will go, and Abraham would go in the opposite direction. Lot chose the better land near to Sodom. Later, when Sodom and Gomorrah are attacked, Lot and his family are taken captive, but Abraham rescues them and returns them, as well as the other captives, to their homes.
God makes a covenant with Abraham, telling him that he will have a son and that his descendants will be a blessing to the world.
Sarah, still childless, tells Abraham to have a child for her through Hagar, her handmaiden, which he does and Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations, is born.
Ishmael is 13 years old, and Abraham 99 when God again comes to Abraham and says that at this time next year he will have a son through Sarah, and orders Abraham to circumcise all the men as a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham’s descendants, forever, which Abraham does that very day.
There is too much in this parashah to cover in a single message, and as I was thinking of what to say, what message God might give to me, I looked at the haftorah reading.
The haftorah, for those who may not be familiar with it, is a reading from the other books of the Tanakh which is related to the Torah reading. It is read after the Torah reading and before the Rabbi gives his drash.
Today’s haftorah is from Isaiah 40:27 – 41:16. In this section of Isaiah, he gives comfort to the exiled Jews, reminding them that God’s promises are forever and trustworthy, so even in the despair of their exile, they can be confident that God has not forgotten them and has plans for their return to Israel.
From this reading, I think I know what I am supposed to talk about today.
God doesn’t work on a timetable that we design: his timing is always perfect, his rescue is always just when it is needed, and he knows best what we need. We, for our part, must maintain faith and trust in God, despite the horrific events that may be occurring in the world.
God promised Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to the world, and that promise has been fulfilled, many times.
The Jewish population throughout the world is roughly 2 out of every 1,000 people, yet nearly 28% of all Nobel prizes ever awarded have been awarded to Jews!
Israel, today, is a world leader in all types of technology, from cyber safety to agriculture to medical advancements. In the midst of the current Coronavirus pandemic, which is causing people to wear protective facemasks, did you know that Israel has developed a mask that is guaranteed to kill the coronavirus? It is reusable and guaranteed for an entire year (if you are interested, go to sonoviatech.com.)
Did you know that Israel has developed a system for agriculture that gets water from the air? They have turned a desert into a garden, for Pete’s sake! They have also developed systems for communication, computers, mathematics, energy (a solar rooftop system for heating water), fish farming without needing to be near water, drip-irrigation system for growing in a water-less environment, military defense systems, a bionic walking assistance system that allows paraplegics to stand, walk, and even go upstairs!
Did you know that the instant messaging system now used by AOL was first developed by an Israeli?
And there are many, MANY other inventions developed by Israelis, in and out of Israel, which have been helpful to humanity.
And let’s not forget the greatest blessing ever delivered to any peoples or nations: the Messiah! That’s right- he was a descendant of Abraham, too.
When we go through tsouris (troubles), as we are going through right now with COVID, elections in the USA, and world-wide invasion of satanic influence and terrorism, we can take comfort in knowing that no matter how hard the world (meaning Satan) tries to destroy the Jews, God will not allow that to happen. And as long as there are Jews in the world, there will be blessings for the world.
For those who hate Jews and want to see Israel destroyed, not only will that be like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, but God also told Abraham that those who curse his descendants will, themselves, by cursed (Genesis 12:3), so maybe you should think twice before planning to destroy Israel.
Look at all the mighty nations throughout history that have attacked and tried to destroy God’s chosen people: the Assyrians (gone); the Babylonians (gone); Greece, during the time of Alexander the Great tried to destroy Judaism, and look at Greece now; Europe sent the Crusaders and now look at it; during the Spanish Inquisition Spain was a world power which slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Jews who refused to convert, and now they are a poor and impotent nation; the Nazi’s tried to kill off the Jews and although they are not all gone, they are pretty much destroyed; and despite the many attempts by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt (not to mention the other Arab nations surrounding little Israel), every time they come against Israel they get their tuchas beat. The only reason, if you ask me, that these Arab nations are still around is because of God’s promise to Hagar and because they are Ishmael’s descendants and thereby, also descendants of Abraham.
Who knows? Maybe if the Arab’s would stop trying to destroy their Jewish brothers and work with them, then the Arabs would also be a blessing to the world. As it is now, they are a bane to humanity, giving birth to Hamas, ISIS, Al Quaida, and other terrorist organizations that are invading and causing trouble throughout Europe and the United States.
God’s promises are 1000% trustworthy and dependable, and when we maintain our faith in God, we will be blessed. Maybe not always in this plane of existence, but certainly throughout eternity, which (after all) is what I look forward to: don’t you?
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!