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    Father Abraham

    Avraham Yitzchak Yaakov avot Abraham Isaac Jacob stampsThe Abraham narratives fill a number of chapters of the Torah at this time of the year.

    In Jewish usage he is called Avraham Avinu – “Abraham our father”. The title probably derives from a verse in Isaiah (51:2), “Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you”.

    Isaiah explains why he thinks Abraham warrants such esteem: “For when he was just one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many”.

    “Just one” means “a lone wolf” in the best sense of the phrase. Others were more interested in idols and ownership, and they laughed at Abraham who thought of Deity and destiny.

    Of course they laughed even more at Sarah who gave birth to a son in her old age. Abraham himself joined in the laughter at the arrival of Isaac, but he was laughing in a different sense – not because he thought it was comical and a joke, but because he was suffused with joy.

    Isaiah saw from the vantage point of centuries later that the patriarch’s contemporaries who thought it was all uproarious had lost the plot.

    What really changed history was that Abraham discovered God, and through Isaac the future of God-belief was assured.

    We call Abraham “our father”; his partner in founding Judaism was Moses, whom we call Moshe Rabbenu, “Moses our teacher”.

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