Thursday, December 20, 2007


Abraham, the founder of the Jewish faith, emerges according to Jewish tradition as the embodiment of the spiritual characteristic of compassion and loving-kindness. This singular definition of his spiritual identity can be associated with one particular verse, which describes his reality toward the end of his life. “And God blessed Abraham –“BAKOL”- in all things , with everything. What was the need to add “everything” if the obvious implication of blessing is precisely that, in which case the text could have read: “And God blessed Abraham!” The word “BAKOL”-with everything, seems superfluous. Nachmanides, the great 13th century exegete, understands this verse to mean that Abraham was blessed with the divine attribute of “allness.” That is, the ability to perceive “allness” is a way of comprehending the divine, and coping with evil and suffering.
Furthermore, this internal cognition finds its natural external expression in acts of “chessed”, in relating to others, to oneself and to the entire world of God’s creation, with compassion and kindness. In light of this passage occurring immediately after the death of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, the notion of God’s blessing of “allness” takes on a particular poignancy.
If one understands all of life as a gift from a Divine Source, what other way is there for us to respond if not with compassion, generosity and love? To be compassionate to all of life is to be godly, to share in God’s understanding of the meaning and purpose of life. It is this particular perspective that accounts for Abraham’s extraordinary relationship with God. The broader one’s view of life, taking in its many wonders and diversities, grandeur and vastness, the more successfully can one cope with life’s sorrows and suffering.

No comments: