Where is Avraham’s resume?

In our first encounter with Avraham, the Torah teaches us the basic knowledge that underlies the existence of the people of Israel.

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol ,

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
INN: Daniel Malichi

Any candidate attempting to get accepted for an important position presents a resume which describes his education, work experience, and anything else that will illuminate his character in a positive light. Thus in our parsha, we would expect the Torah to expound on the “resume” of our ancestor Avraham who was chosen together with his wife Sara to be the founder of the people of Israel.

Avraham Avinu has an excellent resume. The midrashim are full of stories describing how Avraham recognized his Creator even from a young age, how in his youth he fought the idol worship which was common in his time, the heavy price he paid for it when he almost burned in the fiery furnace, and the great miracles that happened to him. But why is there no mention of all of this in the Torah itself?

Our first encounter with Avraham was at the end of Parshat Noach when we are informed of his birth and family. But then, at the beginning of Parshat Lech Lecha, The Torah jumps to G-d's speech to Avraham at the age of 75. Where did the 75 years of activity and faith go?

The question intensifies in light of the fact that last week when we read about Noach, the Torah described him as "an innocent righteous man in his generations, Noach walked with G-d", and only then was it said "and G-d said to Noach". First we are told about Noach’s righteousness and only then are we told that G-d spoke to him, whereas regarding Avraham there is no description of his righteousness. We are told straightaway that G-d spoke to him. Why?

We will try to explain this utilizing the commentary of the Maharal from Prague. If the Torah would have expounded on Avraham’s righteousness then there would be the option for people to mistakenly think that G-d only chose to make a covenant with Avraham (and as a result; his offspring) as a result of his righteousness. But were, G-d forbid, Avraham’s deeds to change from good to bad, the choice would be annulled. This is actually what happened with Noach. G-d’s choice to save Noach from the flood was based on Noach’s righteousness. It did depend on his good deeds.

However, G-d’s choice of our father Avraham, is a general choice of him and his offspring. It does not depend on deeds, and therefore the choice is eternal and cannot change. G-d's love for the people of Israel is "love that does not depend on anything" - the choice is divine and is not contingent on the conduct of the people of Israel, and therefore "will never be void". Therefore, the Torah does not mention the good deeds of Avraham, to emphasize that G-d’s choice of him as the founder of Israel is not due to him personally, but in the merit of the future Jewish nation which is destined to descend from him.

This is an especially important message which the Torah teaches us already in our first encounter with the forefather of our nation in the book of Bereishit. With the laying of the foundation of our nation, it is crucial that we understand the basic fact which underlies the existence of our people: that the covenant between the nation of Israel and the L-rd of the world is based on an indelible divine choice.

At the same time, it is equally important for us to remember that the way in which the same covenant between the people of Israel and G-d will be revealed, whether it will be easy or difficult, quickly or slowly, depends on our choices as human beings. We did not create the covenant; it is a divine creation, but we orchestrate its rhythm and characteristics by our behavior. The more we increase our study of Torah, our mitzvot, and our good character traits, the sooner and more easily the covenant will be fulfilled.

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol is the head of the Barkai Rabbinical Organization and the rabbi of the Shaarei Yonah Menachem community in Modi'in.