TO BE AN IVRI ( a Hebrew)

Moshe Kempinski

Avraham was told that Lot his nephew had been taken away as a prisoner of war. According to the text, “a fugitive brought the news to Abram the Hebrew (Avram ha’ivri)” (Gen. 14:13).

The Hebrew One / Ha’ivri.

We see similarly with Yoseph the same term IVRI is used to describe this descendant of Abraham;

“And there with us was a Hebrew( IVRI) lad, a slave of the chief slaughterer, and we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; for each of us, he interpreted according to his dream.(Genesis 41 :12) .

We see IVRI also being used by the young Prophet Jonah to describe himself.

“And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew( IVRI), and I fear Hashem G-d of heaven, Who made the sea and the dry land.” “(Jonah 1:9)

What then does that term IVRI actually convey?

The Midrash Rabba gives three explanations. The most impactful of the three states ;” The word Ivri is rooted in the word Ever. That is to say “on the other side”. The understanding is that to be a Hebrew ( IVRI) means to have the courage to stand with your truth on one side of the river even if the whole world is standing on the other.

Abraham found and believed in G-d at a time when most of the world were worshiping idols.

Joseph remained Joseph even in the midst of the squalor and immorality of Ancient Egypt.

Jonah tells the frightened sailors on his floundering ship that he is a Hebrew that only fears “Hashem the G-d of heaven, Who made the sea and the dry land.”

We are living in a time when that courage and faith may be the only anchor that will keep us safe and directed in a world that has lost much of its power of discernment.

We in Israel are facing a treacherous foe that believes that murder and mayhem even amongst their own people is a virtuous act of Jihad that will bring about the purification of the world and bring closer “the Rightly Guided One”, the Mahdi ( Shia tradition) and the final cleansing battle according ( Sunni tradition) .

The suffering, even on both sides of the battlefield helps to achieve the ultimate purpose.

In the words of the hadith of Sahih Muslim;

“The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; “

With this in mind we can begin to understand how a society can be established that would funnel humanitarian funds into the creation of missiles and death tunnels. We can begin to comprehend how the military arm of Hamas can set up missile staging areas, weapons storehouses and military offices within heavily populated areas of Gaza city and Chan Yunis.

We can begin to comprehend and still be completely revolted by such lack of concern for the lives of innocents in Israel and in their own territory.

Yet that is not how it is seen in large segments of the world.

Musicians , sports heroes and much of the world media see the conflicts through their almost comic book eyes and need to see a Goliath who is powerful and a David who is fragile.

Since Jews will never accept again the fatal role of being fragile and helpless, then they are clearly viewed as the evil Goliath.

In long discussions I have had with people on the other side of the political spectrum I am frustrated by the level of discussion replete with simplified slogans , caricatures and hip politically correct metaphors.

One of them said how can you stand on what you believe when there are so many people in the world who see “you people” as the problem.

I told him “Ani Ivri, I am a Hebrew”.

Most of the politically correct segments of the world are clear about their views and yet we stand on the other side of the river.

 Thousands of years of history, experience and vision has helped many of us to not drown in that sea of simple metaphors and politically hip and Woke thinking.

Yet this time we are not standing alone.

Certain Nations and many people with a strong handle on destiny are standing alongside us, Abraham did not only influence his children , there were many in the “Household of Abraham” who were influenced as well.

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”( Genesis 12:3)

When G-d tells Abraham “lech lecha” go unto the land which I will show you, that did not only involve obedience and faithfulness it necessitated faith. Abraham was bidden to go forth into an unknown future.

There were others in the Bible that “walked with G-d” such as Adam and Noah. But that was not the situation with Abraham. He was bidden by G-d to “walk before Me.”

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Hashem appeared to Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am G-d Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted. ( Genesis 17:1)

That is a completely different relationship with G-d.

Walking with G-d involves complete dependence on G-d and a complete abandonment of self. Walking before G-d involves tapping into the deepest wellsprings of the soul.

Abraham was asked to struggle to find that unique and Divine part of his self and use that to go before G-d, to walk in faithfulness into the unknown armed only with his faith.

To be a Hebrew.

Lerefuat Kol hacholim vehaptzuim.

Lerefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved

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