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    He knew in advance – Lech L’cha

    Abraham's journey to Canaan, by József Molnár, 1850

    The Divine call to Abraham is magnificent: Lech l’cha me’artz’cha – “Get yourself out of your country, from your birthplace, from your father’s house, to a land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1).

    With Abraham’s response to this call Jewish history began. Had the patriarch held back, there would have been no Jewish people. Because he responded, he is Avraham Avinu – Abraham our Founding Father.

    But the commentators wonder, why davka Abraham? What was behind the Almighty’s choice of this particular individual?

    The Torah gives no explicit answer.

    Contrast Moses; with him the whole book of Exodus is clearly pointing to the fact that he is to loom large in the events that are to unfold. But Abraham?

    Maimonides finds hints of an answer in Abraham discovering the one true God, fighting against idolatry and spreading true religion amongst his contemporaries.

    Nachmanides argues that it is Abraham’s willingness to be a martyr for God that leads to his choice as Founding Father of Judaism.

    But there is a deeper reason suggested by rabbinic tradition.

    Do you remember the line in a Simchat Torah hymn, “Abraham rejoiced on Simchat Torah”? How can anyone keep a festival before it even exists? Yet the sages say that Abraham actually observed the whole Torah before it was given (Yoma 28b; Kiddushin 4:14).

    In other words, Abraham not only pioneered the belief in God and was prepared to fight for it, but he sensed in advance what God required of him.

    It is a fascinating concept and it goes to the heart of leadership. The leader does not need to be told what to do. He is a leader because he already has the instinct to know what the times require.

    He will consult and keep his ear to the ground: but he will show leadership potential before he is appointed though he may refine his thinking in the light of circumstances.

    This is Abraham’s genius, and this is why there is something wanting in the mere workmanlike mediocrity of so many who today occupy positions of leadership.

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