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The Road Avraham Traveled

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This week begins the saga of Avraham and Sara and the origin story of the Jewish people. It all begins with Avraham receiving and following a command from G-d to leave his homeland and to travel into to a land still unrevealed.

As we begin the section of the Torah that deals with our holy forebearers it is interesting to note that the great sages on whom we rely to pierce the holy cloud that surrounds the most sacred are split on how to discuss the biblical personalities. On the one hand, Ramban (Nachmanidies 1194-1270) uses very sharp language, saying that Avraham sinned when he left the Land of Canaan for Egypt. He says Avraham should have had more faith that G-d would save him from the hunger the land was experiencing. He says Avraham was wrong for asking Sarah to disguise the true nature of their relationship, and that Sarah sinned a great sin by the way she treated Hagar. The Ramban called it like he saw it, even if it was critical.
Rashi, (1040-1105) on the other hand, is never critical of our forefathers. He would rather use the midrash’s revelation of hidden meaning in the text, or assume some dialogue happened “off stage,” to justify their behavior. In keeping with the tradition of the Talmud and Midrash, Rashi is not critical of the great personalities unless the Torah itself reveals a negative judgement.

Though I can’t prove it, I wonder if the difference in approaching the text is based on a difference in approaching our spiritual heroes. On the one hand, if these were people who lived,........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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