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Take and Give
by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd
Not everyone is capable of experiencing Abraham's love of G-d but through our deeds, we can achieve the same impact in the physical world as even the greatest of our ancestors. - The Rebbe, Mind Over Matter, p.226.

Abraham Principle - Part 8

Life is full of give and get, but what is our focus? Do we give in order to get? Or get in order to give? Lessons from Abraham.

Give and Take

Abraham was a giver. Whatever he had, he shared. So when it came to the things he valued most, his hard earned truths about the existence of G-d and the importance of acknowledging Him, his sharing knew no bounds.

As a child, his father had him help in the family business, the sale of idols. Of course, Abraham had no use for such foolishness but being a dutiful son, he brought the merchandise to market.

Ostensibly hawking his wares, the youth cried out, "Who wants a useless statue that cannot help anyone?" Obviously business was not brisk on the days he worked, but even when customers came of their own accord he dissuaded them. "Madam, you are an elderly woman and this idol was made only yesterday. How could it have power over the world and your life?" "Good thinking lad, thank you." And so it went throughout the day. Predictably, upon returning home with all his stock and no cash, dad was not thrilled, but for Abraham, truth was an asset not to be sold.

As Abraham aged, his priorities did not change, although his methods did. Upon arriving in the Promised Land, he set up a free hostel in the midst of the Negev desert, not exactly the most hospitable of environments. Soon all the nomads and caravan drivers were stopping by because the welcome was warm, the lodgings superb, and the menu lavish. Despite the arid desolation all around, Abraham's table always featured the best delicacies including dairy, baked goods, meat, wine and fruits, all in abundance for anyone who happened by.

When his guests would rise to bless him, Abraham would respond, "Do you think the food was mine? Thank the true owner, the one G-d, Creator of heaven and earth." If they thanked the Creator for the food, the meal was on the house, but if not, he would present them with an itemized bill for hundreds of shekels. "How can things cost so much?" they would ask. But Abraham's reply was irrefutable. "Where else will you find meat, wine and all delicacies in a desert wilderness? Of course it's expensive. But if you will praise the Almighty, it's yours for free."

But rarely would he have to resort to billing. Typically it was enough to share his reasoning. He explained the error of believing that the Creator abandoned the cosmos and relegated its control to various forces. He explained how things don't make themselves and that Divine creation is not like man's. When people create things, they just alter the form. Divine creation is something from nothing and as such, requires constant investment of creative energy. It all made sense to them and they said Grace happily.

But why did he go through all the hassle? If the point was to teach, why bother with an inn, with lodgings, with cuisine and all the work and expense it entailed? Wouldn't public lectures achieve the same result, maybe even better?

But Abraham knew his customers. Not everyone is an intellectual. Just as the human head comprises about 7% of the body's mass, so too brainy types make up about 7% of the body of humanity. That leaves a whole lot of people that need a connect to G-d at a totally different level.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach and I bet women are no different (Chocolates, anyone?). Abraham fed the people, spent his hard-earned money for the physical well-being and comfort of absolute strangers, and then shared all kinds of theological, philosophical and common-sense insights with them as if they were all old college chums. Those that understood accepted it at that level. Those that didn't resonated with his passion and sincerity and appreciated his love and care. A G-d of love is a G-d people can relate to and that was the G- d of Abraham.

His gift of monotheism was given from the heart. And the proof was in the pudding.

Ref: Sefer Maamarim - Rebbe Rayyatz - Vayera 5701.

To read previous installments and other Torah and Science related articles, or to comment, or to contact the author, visit


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