PARASHAT LECH LECHA
In this past week’s parasha, Avraham Avinu is referenced by the term Avraham ha-“Ivri”, (Ber. 14:13) a unique name.
There is a famous Chazal midrash that indicates that this connotes Avraham’s ability to hold to a position despite being against that of the entire world -- Avraham be-zad ehad ve-kol ha-olam be-zad aher- Avraham is on one side and all the world in the other (The Seforno on that posuk gives another explanation that “ivri” means that he adhered to the beliefs of Ever-Noa’s grandson.)
When almost the entire rest of the world adhered to paganism, Avraham Avinu adhered to monotheism.
But why does Avraham need to go against everyone? Why not to follow the pack?
There is a famous story that explains that point:
A local bishop asked Rabbi Yonatan Ivshitz, “it says in your Torah acharei Rabbim le hatot - go after the majority. Well the Jews are very much in the minority most of the world believe in other gods, so shouldn’t you?”
Rabbi Yonatan answers: “Our Torah only says to follow Rov (majority) where we have a safeik -- a doubt. If we are unsure what the halacha is on one point, and the qualified authorities get together, we are commanded to follow the majority opinion. But that does not apply when we are sure – and in matters of faith we have a tradition and have no doubts.”
Sometimes it is hard to be on the other side, especially when everyone tells you that you are wrong, but Avraham Avinu teaches us: Explore, don’t believe everything you've been told until you find the truth. But when you find the truth, no matter what everyone is going to tell you, don’t compromise, go with all your heart, it might be difficult in the beginning, but only that way you can create great things as the chosen nation. This is the reason why we as a nation are called “Ivrim” and our language is called Ivrit. Find the truth and don’t look back!
Rabbi Ariel Koriat
High School Judaic Studies