web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Emphasizing Honesty And Integrity During The Days Of Awe


Share Button

Have you ever wondered why Avraham was the first patriarch of the Jewish people? Probably not; the reason is so obvious. We have grown up hearing the stories of the young boy Avram, who questioned the irrational idolatry of his time. We have followed him on his journey of discovery; how he investigated nature, science, each mode of worship – and logically arrived at the conclusion that there has to be One Omnipotent Creator responsible for our existence.

We are amused and impressed by his cleverness when he accuses the largest idol in his father’s store of smashing the others, clearly displaying the folly of stone and wooden gods. We are in awe of his bravery when he stands up to Nimrod, proud to step into the fiery furnace in defense of his convictions. And we are overjoyed when he miraculously steps out unscathed.

Avraham is our patriarch because he is a unique man among men who started a monotheistic revolution. He had no precedent, no teacher, no role model, no mentor, not even direct confirmation from Hashem Himself. All he had was a partner, Sarah, and together they defied an entire generation and brought the knowledge of, and belief in, One God to the masses. Advertisement

Interestingly, this history of Avraham’s revolution, of his passion to teach monotheism to the world, is recorded in the Midrash, but not in the Chumash. The story the Torah tells us about Avraham’s life begins long after his search for God; it begins with Lech Lecha, Hashem’s first communication with Avraham, when God actually sends Avraham away from the place where he is doing some of his best work.

If the Torah does not record Avraham’s struggle to find God, what does it tell us about his mission? The Torah states (Parashat Vayeira 18:19): “Ki yedativ lema’an asher yetzaveh et banav v’et beito acharav veshamru derech Hashem la’asot tzedakah umishpat” – “For I know him, in order that he will command his children and his household after him to keep the ways of Hashem, to do righteousness and justice in the land.”

While not discounting or downplaying the importance of Avraham’s monotheistic legacy, the Torah paints a different picture of Avraham’s mission to humanity. God chose Avraham, not only because Avraham chose God but because Avraham chose to live a Godly life, a life whose cornerstone was tzedakah umishpat, a life that defines Godliness not only by the way we interact with God but by the way we interact with others.

To teach people that the authentic God exists is an admirable and worthy mission. But the Torah is telling us the reason Avraham was chosen to be our patriarch was because he taught people to bring God’s righteousness and justice into their relationships with others.

Consider halacha, Jewish law; it is our directive for how to live our lives. The Shulchan Aruch, the magnum opus that codifies halacha, is composed of four sections, and the largest of the four is Choshen Mishpat.

Choshen Mishpat is not about Shabbat, or the holidays, or prayer, or Torah study. The largest section of Jewish law is about how we treat our fellow human beings in our business dealings. It is about how we treat our employees and how we market our goods. It is about “ha’poel tzarich la’avod b’kol kocho,” that an employee is obligated to give his all at a job, even if his predecessor wasn’t as capable and the expectations are not as high. It is about ona’at mamon, having an obligation to price fairly and not assume that caveat emptor, buyer beware, is an acceptable motto. It is about ona’at devarim, shopping with the intention of buying, and not wasting the time and abusing the knowledge of a worker when there is no intention to transact a sale.

To conduct business in a halachic manner, one must be very knowledgeable in Choshen Mishpat, and that requires diligent study.

One of the themes we focus on during the davening of the High Holidays is that of zechut avot, the merits of our Patriarchs. We invoke the great sacrifices of Avraham, and beg Hashem to let his sacrifices be a merit for us, his descendants. But the real question is, are we worthy descendants of Avraham? Have we recognized and continued his great mission of spreading tzedakah umishpat throughout the land?

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Emphasizing Honesty And Integrity During The Days Of Awe”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abbas and Hanieyh on poster, next to a picture of Arafat.
Kerry’s Talks Achieve Peace Between Hamas and Fatah
Latest Indepth Stories
Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Weil

Have you ever wondered why Avraham was the first patriarch of the Jewish people? Probably not; the reason is so obvious. We have grown up hearing the stories of the young boy Avram, who questioned the irrational idolatry of his time. We have followed him on his journey of discovery; how he investigated nature, science, each mode of worship – and logically arrived at the conclusion that there has to be One Omnipotent Creator responsible for our existence.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/emphasizing-honesty-and-integrity-during-the-days-of-awe/2010/09/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: