Divrei Torah


Towards the end of this week’s Parsha we are introduced to the family of Avraham. The Torah tells us that his family left from Ur Kasdim. The Midrash teaches us that Ur Kasdim received its name from an incident that happened to Avraham.

Terach – Avraham’s father - earned his living selling idols. At this time, Avraham was beginning to preach the idea of monotheism, which was strong competition to Terach’s business. One day, Terach had to leave his shop and he placed Avraham in charge of the store. Avraham proceeded to destroy all of the idols with the exception of one idol. He put a hammer in the hand of that idol and then resumed minding the store.

When Terach returned, he found his business in ruins. He was quite upset and asked Avraham what had happened. Avraham explained that a fight broke out among the idols. This largest idol took a hammer and beat up all of the other idols until they were destroyed 

Terach said to Avraham that his story was a lie because the idols cannot hear, talk or move. Avraham responded with a tough theological question: “If they cannot hear, talk or move, why do you worship them?” Terach was stumped. So, he decided to punish Avraham. Terach brought Avraham to King Nimrod, a wicked king trying to take over the world.

Nimrod showed Avraham a furnace and threatened to execute him. He asked Avraham why he doesn’t worship idols. He should worship fire. Avraham answered that maybe you should worship water because it puts out the fire. Nimrod agreed. Then Avraham said that maybe you should worship the clouds because the clouds make the water. Nimrod agreed to that. The Avraham said that maybe you should worship the wind because it blows the clouds away. Nimrod realized that he was in a lose – lose theological argument. So, he seized Avraham and threw him into the fiery furnace. Miraculously, Avraham survived the furnace. That place was given the name Ur Kasdim – the fire of the Chaldeans – as a remembrance to this incident.

Terach and Nimrod had all of the facts right in front of their faces. Terach himself admitted that the idols could not do anything. Nimrod admitted that his gods were not in control and all-powerful. They knew that Avraham was right. Yet, they insisted on persecuting Avraham. Why? 

The Book of Breishis is the blueprint for the world.  When Jews are involved against enemies, facts make no difference. In the eyes of most of the world, the Jews are wrong and don’t confuse the accusers with the facts. The accusers can make up their own facts or slant the news to sound as they want. It makes no difference who those accusers are - CNN, the New York Times, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority or even the State Department. The Jews are the oppressors, the instigators, the aggressors and they use excessive force.

Unfortunately, the Jewish people must cope with illogical people and senseless policies. But, it is nothing new for the Jewish people. Nimrod’s idol worship was completely illogical. Avraham proved that the idols were useless! How did Nimrod respond? He threw Avrhaham into the fire pit. Our world is filled with illogical people and incredulous events. It’s very scary! But just as Avraham outlived and outsmarted Nimrod, we – the descendants of Avraham will also outlive and outsmart the modern reincarnations of Nimrod. Don’t be discouraged by the double standards and unfair reporting towards Israel. In the long run, the truth will emerge and the Jewish people shall triumph.