17 October 2017

Avraham Avinu's Mission

27 Tishrei 5778

People tend to think that the world is the same today as it was yesterday or, even worse, that it is progressing from a primitive state to a more advanced state. The world that exists today is not the same world that existed in the past and I'm not just referring to the cultural environment. The world before the Great Flood no longer existed after the Flood and the world before the Great Dispersion and Confusion of Languages was changed forever in its aftermath. When the world changes, we change also. What was appropriate and possible at one point in time is quite possibly no longer true at a future time. 

Excerpted from the Ramchal's Derech Hashem (II:4:3-6)...
...When Adam sinned, he fell from his original high level, and brought upon himself a great degree of darkness and insensitivity.... Mankind in general also fell from its original height, and remained on a degraded level where it was not at all worthy of the eternal high degree of excellence originally destined for it.
...Nevertheless, even in the time of his downfall, the elevated aspect that existed in man as a result of his true root was not completely extinguished. Adam was therefore not cast aside completely, and could still return to the higher level....
God gave Adam's descendants a free choice at that time to strengthen themselves and strive to elevate themselves from this lower state and regain the higher level.
The  Higher Wisdom, however, determined the length of time best suited for such an effort, and accordingly set a time limit for these generations. ..everything that involves effort must be limited in time.
The Highest Wisdom deemed it fitting that this effort be divided into a period for the roots, and another for the branches. The original effort would thus be that of the roots, while what would come later would involve the branches.
The human race initially had a chance to permanently regain its original state and rectify the spiritual damage that had been done. The proper procedure would have been for the roots and heads of Adam's descendants to first elevate themselves to the rectified level. Once this was accomplished, both the roots and their branches would remain in this state forever, since the branches always follow the roots.
The time provided for generations to function as roots, however, was limited. During this period, the gate was open and the opportunity existed for any individual to properly prepare himself and permanently become a good and worthy root. He would then be prepared for a high degree of excellence, appropriate for man in his original state, rather than that of a man in his fallen state.
Since this individual would perfect himself as a Root, he would attain this for his deserving descendants as well as for himself. They would all receive what he attained, and would therefore all be able to remain on the level and state attained by him as their root.
The period during which this was possible extended from the time of Adam until the Generation of Separation [when the Tower of Bavel was built]. During this period there never ceased to be some righteous people who preached the truth to the multitudes, warning them to correct themselves. These included such individuals as Chanoch, Mesushelach, Shem, and Ever.
Man's measure was filled, however, in the Generation of Separation. God's Attribute of Justice then decreed that the time when men could be considered roots should come to a close.
...God then scrutinized all mankind, perceiving the levels that should be made permanent in that generation's members according to their deeds. These things then became a permanent part of their nature in their aspect as roots. it was thus decreed they each should bear future generations, all possessing the qualities that were deemed appropriate for their root ancestor.
...it turned out that none of them deserved to rise above the degraded level to which Adam and his children had fallen as a result of their sin.
There was, however, one exception, and that was Avraham. He had succeeded in elevating himself, and as a result of his deeds was chosen by God. Avraham was therefore permanently made into a superior excellent Tree, conforming to man's highest level. It was further provided that he would be able to produce branches [and father a nation] possessing his characteristics.
The world was then divided into seventy nations, each with its own particular place in the general scheme. All of them, however, remained on the level of man in his fallen state, while only Israel was in the elevated state.
Even though it may seem that man was originally the same as he is now, there is actually a great difference. Before the Generation of Separation, man existed in the age of roots, and was dealt with accordingly. When this period ended, things were judged and made permanent, and a new age began. This is the age of branches, which still exists.
God's great love and goodness decreed that the branches of other nations still be given a chance. If they so desired, they still had the free choice to tear themselves loose from their own roots, and through their own actions include themselves among the branches of Avraham's family.
This is what God meant when he told Avraham (Breishis 12:3), "All the families of the earth will be blessed through you." Avraham was thus made the father of all converts.
[This, however, would require effort on the part of the individuals concerned.] Without such effort, they would remain attached to their own roots and retain their natural characteristics.
...God also gave the nations a last chance. ...If any nation would have then accepted the Torah, it would have elevated itself from its lower state. As it was, none of them desired the Torah, and their judgment was therefore sealed completely. The gate was permanently closed, never again to be opened
It still remained possible, however, for any individual to convert to Judaism. In this manner, he could still include himself in Avraham's tree of his own free will.
[This] meant that [the other nations] would have to remain on the lower level.... This lower state would never have been meant for man if Adam had not sinned.
...These nations still have the human aspect, blemished though it may be, and God desired that they should at least have a counterpart of what was actually appropriate for all mankind.
He therefore granted them a Divine Soul (neshamah) somewhat like that of a Jew, even though it is on a much lower level. They were likewise given commandments, through which they could attain both material and spiritual advantages appropriate to their nature. These are the seven [universal] commandments given to the children of Noach.
Excerpted from Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin's Insights in the Torah on Lech Lecha...
התהלך לפני והיה תמים - Walk before Me and be perfect. Publicize My Name in this world, as you have been doing until now. This may require you to meet and debate idolaters and heretics, to listen to their distorted views about God in order to make them aware of the truth. Such arguments could possibly taint your perfection. But strive to eradicate them completely, both them and their views, and you will remain "perfect," a tzadik of perfect faith!
ויפל אברם על-פניו - Abram fell on his face: Abraham's life goal was to bring all the nations to faith in the Living God. As is known, he would attract passersby by offering them drinks, and then some would heed his call to convert.
But, when he heard the new condition for conversion, namely circumcision, he was seized with trembling, for henceforth his goal would be beyond reach.  What fool would listen to him to undergo an operation on his own flesh? Abraham fell on his face in great anguish, like a man whose ship had sunk at sea.
This is what is behind Chazal's statement (Breishis Rabbah Ch. 46), "Before I underwent circumcision they would come and join me, but who will come now that I am circumcised?" God answered him:
אני הנה בריתי אתך - As for Me, this is My covenant with you. I do not need a lot of "converts"," who come to "look for God" among the food and drink, and who are unwilling to shed their blood on the altar of faith. It is sufficient for Me that you keep My covenant. I am content to have one believer like you, who goes through fire and water to sanctify My Name.
"If you accept circumcision upon yourself, then you and I shall suffice for the world" (Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 24). And although "The king's glory is in great multitudes" (Mishlei 14:28), those multitudes would emerge from Abraham himself, who was destined to become "father of a multitude of nations" (17:5).
והקמתי את בריתי ביני ובינך - I will ratify My covenant between Me and you. But do not fear that you will remain the only believer in the world. I promise that the covenant will also apply to "your offspring after you throughout their generations" (ibid.).
Jews are compassionate and they want to make it easy, give the Torah away to the nations. But this is not derech Hashem! You can't make it easy for those not born to it. They have to "strengthen themselves and strive to elevate themselves" like Avraham Avinu did. Without zechut avot, they have to do the same work themselves that Avraham did. It is unavoidable.
"...if you seek it like silver, and hunt for it like treasuresthen you will understand the fear of the Lord, and you will find the knowledge of God." (Mishlei 2:4-5)
"Silver" and "treasures" are not easily come by. They take a lot of diligent work and hard effort.

When the age of roots ended, so did Avraham's mission. It did not devolve to his descendants to continue it because the time was past. The time for appealing to the nations was over.

Today, wherever Bnei Yisrael live as Torah Jews, they exude a light which draws individual worthy souls to seek out their Creator just as Avraham Avinu did. As Ramchal points out, they must do the work for themselves, no Jew can do it for them. (That's the teaching of Christianity!)

The Jews' light is created by their limud Torah, ma'asei mitzvot and gemilut chasadim. It can travel through the spiritual worlds and ignite a spark within worthy souls that causes them to reach out for HKB"H who is always on the lookout. For each one, He personally designs an obstacle course which will prove their worthiness to inherit from their spiritual father. At some point, they will need to approach a Jew - only then should help be offered and even then one should "draw close with the right hand and push away with the left."

Earlier generations knew and understood these things much better than we do today. It behooves us to look to them for guidance. It is very easy to do the wrong thing with the best of intentions.

With regard to the nations' obligations in the Seven Laws, the internet has made it possible to communicate this knowledge and spread it throughout the world without the need for any Jew to take away from his Divine or communal obligations or to engage with the nations on a personal level in violation of Torah commandments.


  1. Tomer Devorah, The concept of ROOT RACES is VERY OLD and found in many religious traditions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_race https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQa4VYBb0lE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wkQ6P1V6l8 I will research this subject further before commenting on it.

  2. p.s. oh yes, right. with regard to the Internet making it possible for our RABBIS and TORAH SCHOLARS, JUDGES, PRIESTS and PROPHETS, and KINGS and PRINCES to communicate with the nations and their representatives, AND NEVER FOR FINANCIAL GAIN OR OTHER MATERIAL BENEFIT. to teach them about the Noahide Covenant and Laws. yes.