Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 48 - Rabbi Amirit Rosen

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

We were commanded as descendants of Abraham to be a blessing. When Abraham prepared for his life journey “Go…to the land I will show you”, God blessed him with the words: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12, 12).  A blessing, which is a promise, that Abraham himself will be a blessing and all nations of the world will be blessed by encountering him. 

How can we continue Abraham’s path and be a blessing for ourselves and all around us?

Abraham was chosen by God, because God knew him, and believed that he will command his children and all who will be around him, to act with righteousness and judgment towards each and every one no matter what their origins are. There is a Midrash about Abraham: “The one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (proverbs 11, 18). He Sowed righteousness and fed the hungry, as it is written: “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God” (Genesis 21, 33). After he fed them, they would bless him. And he told them: you bless me? Bless the owner of the universe who gives all people food, drinks and spirit…When they heard that, they asked: how will we bless and repay him? And Abraham answered, say: Blessed be God of the universe and his name will be a blessing to the world. He would teach them words of blessings and gratitude.  

The Mishnah teaches: “Whoever possesses these three things, he is of the disciples of Abraham, our father: a good eye, a humble spirit and a moderate appetite” (Mishnah Avot 5, 19). This is a lesson about the ability to bless others, to see every person in a good eye. 

In the Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer interprets the verse: “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” and suggests to look at “will be blessed” as a botanical assembly. The tree is praised by the combination of branches of various kinds that strengthen it and make the fruit better. This midrash changes the meaning of the verse. Instead of seeing Abraham as the source of  blessing, it suggests that the nations around Abraham, who praise him, by their presence, become a blessing.

Abraham holds within him the uniqueness and multiplicity of being a “father of many nations”. He is a man with a distinct identity who contains within him the diversity of many peoples. Abraham can contain the multiplicity and the whole which allows him to be a blessing.

May we also feel that we can find space for multiple diverse identities, for the joy and the pain of others within our own identity, and by that, resemble Abraham, our forefather,  walk the path of God, to justice and be a blessing for all around us.


Rabbi Amirit Rosen

Rabbi Amirit Rosen is the Rabbi of the congregation “Moreshet Avraham” in Jerusalem together with her husband, Rabbi David Goodman. Amirit co-established together with religious leaders, educators and social activists ״The Interfaith Initiative in the Negev.״ Amirit is active in interfaith dialogue and intra-faith dialogue in Israel and around the world and works toward a more sensitive society that cares for the other and for the environment. Amirit and David have two daughters. 

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