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November 17, 2014 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Toldot

In this week’s Torah portion, God announces that Isaac’s seed will be blessed because Abraham “hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws” (Gen. 16:5).  Because of this apparent redundancy, Rashi interprets this to mean that Abraham was a model rabbinic Jew, keeping the Talmud as well as the Torah (even though even the latter was revealed hundreds of years later, and the Talmud was written over 1500 years after the Torah)- an idea that has led to all sorts of nonsensical contortions by some rabbis.

But other commentators show that you really don’t have to believe such farfetched things to be a frum Jew.  Nachmanides finds a more reasonable way of explaining the redundancy: “My charge” means that Abraham believed in God, “My commandments” means obedience to whatever God told him to do (e.g. leaving his father), “My statutes” means general good ethics (e.g. honesty, kindness etc) and “My laws” means the law of circumcision that God commanded Abraham to follow (which, unlike the rulings in the “My commandments” category, Jews still follow today).

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