In this week’s parsha we begin learning about our Avos and Imahos, who are the foundation of Klal Yisrael: The posuk in Devarim (10:15) says that Hashem only chose us because of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs.
Rav Chaim Volozhin explains (Ruach Chaimin Perkei Avos 5:2) that all of the great attributes that we find in Klal Yisrael come from our Avos and Imahos. He says that the strength and ability that we find in even the simplest of Jews to give up their lives for emunah was only made possible because Avraham Avinu was moser nefesh during the akeida (and because of the fire into which he was thrown.)
With this we can also answer another question regarding the akeida. We know that the akeida is considered a monumental event, so much so that we mention it on Rosh Hashanah and in many of our tefillos. One can wonder why the akeida was so special. What about it was so unique, when we find throughout the generations thousands of Jews have given their lives for Kiddush Hashem. Why was the akeida so monumental?
Rav Chaim Volozhin answers that the ability that so many of our people possess to give everything, including their lives, for Kiddush Hashem was inherited from our Avos and Imahos.
Rav Chaim Volozhin also says that the burning desire that every Jew has for Eretz Yisrael even after nearly two thousand years of the churban, is due to the fact that when Hashem told Avraham Avinu “Lech l’cha” he developed that yearning and desire for Eretz Yisrael and passed it down to his descendants.
In this week’s parsha, the Torah tells us that when Avraham Avinu came to Eretz Yisrael he built a mizbe’ach, and “Vayikra b’shem Hashem.” The Ramban explains that that Avraham publicized to the world that there is a Creator and that He continually runs the world. He informed everyone that this great Creator wants everyone to follow in His wonderful ways.
The Ramban continues that Yitzchak Avinu continued this work in his own way. However, regarding Yaakov Avinu we do not find that he spread the knowledge of Hashem to the world. The Ramban explains that this was because he had many sons, all of whom were ovdei Hashem, so it was unnecessary for him to openly publicize Hashem to the world. It was through the actions of Yaakov and his sons that Hashem’s name was publicized.
The Zohar (quoted in the famous tefillas HaShela which many are accustomed to reciting on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan) says that the purpose of this world is to teach the world about Hashem and His ways. The only way this is accomplished is through Am Yisrael acting as servants of Hashem. At Yetzias Mitzrayim, we became a nation of servants of Hashem, and the world then became aware of Hashem.
The Midrash in Esther Rabbah (6:2) likens Mordechai to Avraham Avinu in the sense that they both taught people about Hashem. As the posuk says, “And many people of the land became yehudim.” The Midrash says that this is why Mordechai was called “Yehudi,” for he fulfilled the purpose of a yehudi – to teach the world about Hashem. This is the purpose of the Jewish nation as well. It is the Jewish people who contributed monotheism to the world, and we must continue to educate the world about the single Creator and ruler of the world.
But how are we to do this?
The answer is not through social media or making speeches in the UN. Our nation’s public relations will not improve through any speech or publicity. The only way that we can affect, impress, inform and enlighten the world is through our actions. We are supposed to be mekadesh Hashem through the way we conduct ourselves. We are supposed to be a light onto the nations by demonstrating the correct path to live by.
On Yom Tov we beseech Hashem: “Reveal Your glorious kingdom upon us.” When the nations of the world see how Hashem will save His nation, they will see that there is a Creator who runs the world. That is our purpose. We must do everything that we can to effect that Hashem should reveal His malchus and redeem us, displaying to the world that there is a Creator who runs the world.
May we all merit to be fulfill our purpose of being mekadesh shem Shamayim, which will bring about the revelation of malchus Hashem, speedily in our days, amen.