Moshe Kempinski
Moshe KempinskiCourtesy

When we first encountered Abraham we are told the following regarding his inevitable impact on the world;

"And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you." Genesis 12:2-3)

Before Abraham G-d was seen as all powerful but distant and hard to relate to.

Before Abraham Divine wrath was the ultimate fear and methods were developed to “placate “Him.

Before Abraham the Almighty was not spoken to but rather, He was only worshipped and praised

Before Abraham one never ventured into the unknown to grow in appreciation of G-d , one could only walk beside Him.

As a result before Abraham most of humanity out of fear turned to agents of G-d , the stars, the sun or the angels or even homemade statues to have a “relationship with.

After Abraham, all that began to change in the world. One man motivated by one passion, to be in relationship with and be the language of the Master of the World became as G-d promised to be the vessel through which “ all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you”.

One of the main characteristics of this man was his passion to go forward without hesitation.

"Now when Avram was ninety-nine years old, Hashem appeared to Avram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be wholehearted" (ibid 17:1).That is to say "walk forward into the unknown with the faith that i am behind you.

All of mankind is beset with a tendency that becomes even more pronounced when we are moving ahead on a belief and a promise. Procrastination becomes the enemy of vision. Yet it is so prevalent and is so well accepted. In the words of Mark Twain “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well”.

Yet putting things off inevitably robs us of opportunity and chips away at the resolve to move forward. Avraham develops a trait that avoids that pitfall.

When Avraham is recuperating from the rite of the circumcision, we read the following.

"And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground...And he said, "My lords, if only I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass on from beside your servant. …And Avraham hastened to the tent to Sarah, and he said, "Hasten three seah of meal [and] fine flour; knead and make cakes." And to the cattle did Avraham run, and he took a calf, tender and good, and he gave it to the youth, and he hastened to prepare it,"(Genesis 18:2-7)

This was to be a critical quality of Avraham. When faced with a task, regardless of how uncomfortable , painful or ominous, Avraham hurries to seize the opportunity.

When he is told that his nephew Lot had been captured in a war we read; "And Avram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, and he armed his trained men, those born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and he pursued [them] until Dan."( ibid 14:14) Without hesitation

When Hashem asks Avraham to bring his son as an elevated offering we read:

"Early the next morning Avraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.(ibid 22:3 )

In spite of the pain and sorrow Avraham did not hesitate and seized every opportunity to do what needed to be done.

In a world where sitting on the fence and declaring "I'm good" is the accepted norm, Avraham teach us all to step in and seize the moment. Otherwise the moment may disappear, and the resolve can melt away.

The United States of America is entering the final days before their election.

It is not our election, though we in Israel can truly expect to feel its effects and have very deep feelings on the matter. So with caution ,let me offer some thoughts from our history and perspective.

Opinion polls predict victory or failure depending on which side of the fence one stands. Yet opinion polls are extremely dangerous mainly due to the problem of hesitation and procrastination.

When polls point in one direction, two possibilities arise. The first for some is despair and the thought ‘what can I do anyway”. Similarly for others with different expectations it is relief and the thought ”I don’t have to do anything now”.

Both possibilities are dangerous. It dismisses the power of one’s individual’s choice to make a change.

People who care about Divine purpose and achieving the greatest good cannot fall into those traps.

Hillel the elder says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14)

Rabbi Moshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.