Ohr Hachayim Exodus: Vaera
“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”
Frank Herbert (1920 – 1986)
About four millennia ago, the world was polytheistic. There was an ingrained, widely held belief that there was a multiplicity of gods. A god of the sun, of the river, of rain, of fertility, major gods, minor gods, gods in human form, gods with animal characteristics, gods of gold, of silver, of stone, of clay. Whatever the human imagination could construct, the human spirit could believe in.
In preparation for redeeming the Hebrew nation from the bondage of Egypt, God names each of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in His announcement to Moses. The Ohr Hachayim (Exodus 6:3) states that it was in the merit of each of these great founders of the Israelite line that the Jewish nation was released from slavery. The Ohr Hachayim explains what the greatness of each Patriarch was. In explaining the greatness of Abraham, he claims that it was for one reason alone: Abraham’s discovery of God.
The Ohr Hachayim declares that it’s no big deal to believe in God when you are taught so from childhood. To have the belief in God as part of your upbringing, culture and social reality is good and proper, but doesn’t compare to the challenge of someone who had to figure it out for themselves. Someone who can look at a pagan world, at a world consumed by materialism, self-worship and the worship of strange gods (movie stars, athletes, money, etc.) and can still find and reveal the divine in this world is worthy of redemption for himself, his progeny and those around him.
May we rediscover God every day.
To the first blessing of the Silent Prayer, where we actually bless God, the God of our Patriarchs, the Shield of Abraham.