Excerpts taken from Rabbi Brad Hirshfield’s book ‘You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right‘.
3 Principles of Seeking
“Abraham sets out from his home, from everything he knows, when God calls to him and says ‘Go to the land that I will show you‘. Abraham does not know exactly where he is going. That is the first principal of seeking – to get moving, even if you only have a direction, not a destination” (Hirschfield, pg 53)
“Whenever you think you’ve reached the end, there’s always more up ahead. There’s always more meaning and purpose than we can possibly imagine. The Hebrew word for heaven, olam habah, is usually translated as ‘the world to come’, as if heaven is fixed. But it also translates as ‘the world that is coming’ – a moving, dynamic place where we will face a new set of challenges and opportunities” (Hirschfield, pg 54)
“In Abraham’s journey, when God says He plans to destroy Sodom, Abraham asks, “will you sweep away innocent along with guilty?” In essence, Abraham is telling God that if God surrenders a sense of justice and goodness, then God isn’t God” (Hirschfield, pg 54)
“Arguing with God – rejecting God – can be as sacred as accepting God. There are times when not believing in God is as holy as believing in God with all your heart and soul. One of the lessons of the Sodom story is that Abraham, the bible’s first monotheist, is also the bible’s first atheist.” (Hirschfield, pg 55)
“True seeking encourages arguing and fighting; it embraces testing and dispute, but only on the condition that the dignity of both sides is retained. That is mutuality: whoever appears to be less powerful should be encouraged to exert power and should be protected…We have to be very clear about what our obligations are when we get what we want. That’s what it means to be an ethical, powerful person.” (Hirschfield, pg 57)
(3) Mitzvah – Good Deed/Religious Act
“When God calls out to Abraham, Abraham responds with the Hebrew word hineini – ‘Here I am”. This is mitzvah…We need to feel able to be there for the people we love and the things in which we deeply believe, which we hold sacred.” (Hirschfield, pg 58 )
“We always need to be in both positions, demanding the hineini response from ourselves and demanding for ourselves that other say it to us. When it’s either one or the other, we get into ruts. If you’re always giving it, you get burned out and resentful. When you’re always demanding it without giving it, you’re selfish and immature.” (Hirschfield, pg 58 )
“Mitzvah is a crucial principal in the journey of the seeker. When Abraham says ‘Here I am’, he is saying, ‘I am present, I am fully here, how can I help?‘ It doesn’t matter where we apply that in our lives, to our children or to God, as long as we live that way and have that response to the sacred parts of our lives.” (Hirschfield, pg 58-59)
***Just liked the teaching from Rabbi Hirschfield – great insights into the story of Abraham – which Yael had also re-ittirated to me on her blog (a few of these points anyways). But the reason I post it is because there are lessons to be learned from Abraham about being a person of ‘faith’…and what that means.