The source of the phrase “Shield of Abraham” is this week’s sidra, where God says, “Do not fear, Abram: Anochi Magen Lach – I am your shield; your reward is very great” (Gen. 15:1).
Is there a reason why our patriarch was afraid and needed Divine reassurance?
Targum Yonatan suggests that Abraham said to himself, “Perhaps I have been rewarded for my good deeds in this world and there will be nothing left for the World to Come”.
Did he have any particular good deed in mind? Maybe he was thinking of his efforts to save his nephew Lot from destruction by the kings of the region.
What reward had he received? Success in his mission was already a great boon. God now promised to be his protection in the years ahead and enable him to accumulate further credit.
But at a price – it all depended on his continuing to do good deeds, not for the sake of the reward but for the sake of Heaven.
In our own way we all face Abraham’s problem. Will our own good deeds bring us a Heavenly reward?
The answer is once again “Yes, but… There will be a reward, but don’t make that your main consideration. Do what is right for its own sake, and let the reward come in its own way”.