This week’s Parsha begins with G-d’s first communication to our forefather Avraham, who was 75 years old at the time.
Our sages debate at which age Avraham recognized that there is a Creator. It was either at the tender age of three or when he was 48 years old.
During this time, aside from just a few people in the world who believed in G-d, such as Noach and his son Shem, the rest of the world were either idolaters or those who belief in G-d never entered their minds.
Avraham’s father, Terach, and his grandfather, Nachor, were idolaters, who even manufactured idols. This was the environment in which Avraham was raised.
Avraham was the first person to stop and look around at the vast world. He observed the sun, the moon, the stars, the soil, vegetation, and landscape, the environment and weather patterns and contemplated its ingenuity and awesomeness. He began to think about how it all came about and slowly but surely, he was convinced that there is a Creator, for it is impossible to attribute such precision, beauty and harmony to mere randomness.
Avraham felt the need to spread his thoughts and beliefs to others through engaging them in conversation.
This got him into trouble. The wicked King Nimrod, who was vehemently opposed to G-d, gave Avraham an ultimatum, either he rejects his belief in G-d and admits to idols and he will be allowed to live, or if he chooses to believe in G-d, he would be cast publicly into an intense fiery furnace.
Avraham stood by his belief in G-d and was cast into the fire and miraculously walked out unscathed. This miracle, due to his devotion to G-d, was a transformative moment for many people and they began believing in G-d.
G-d’s first instruction to Avraham, was to leave his homeland of Charan without even being told where he was to settle. This was one test of Avraham’s unquestioning faith in G-d’s will.
The Medrash gives us an illustration of what brought about G-d communicating to Avraham. “It is like someone walking past a palace and sees there is a fire within. He wonders, ‘is there no owner to put out the fire?’”
The Medrash tells us that of course Avraham believed the world/palace was created by G-d. However, he saw how distant and degraded people of his generation were, and he perceived that the world would be destroyed because of the sins of mankind – similar to what happened to the generation of the flood. He said, perhaps the Owner of the world doesn’t care anymore and is letting it self-destruct. At that point, G-d Himself appeared to Avraham and said, “I am
G-d, I own the world and I am, and will always, be here watching over it.”
The Torah tells us that G-d told Avraham: “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you with wealth, and make your name great and empower you to give blessings as well as effecting curses. Through you, all the inhabitants of the world will prosper.”
This communication of G-d to Avraham set the stage for him to raise his son Yitzchok, his grandson Yaacov, and Yaakov’s children the 12 tribes and all generations that followed. They were taught that no matter what occurs, whether it looks good or bad, G-d is in charge, He cares, and is always there for us.
He loving waits for his children to follow His ways and turn the ‘Palace’ from becoming consumed by fire, into a ‘Palace’ that is lit up by our candlelight – the Torah, Mitzvos and Chesed that shines forth from us ― that enlighten the entire world!