“With 10 trials was Avraham tested, and stood firm through all of them, teaching us how beloved he was before the Almighty.” (Avos 5:3)
One can only imagine the bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway leaving Charan in the direction of Canaanite land on that sunny morning when Avraham set off on the spiritual journey that would change the world forever. This world famous lecturer and author, who had been captivating audiences for three decades through seminars in Monotheism and Spirituality, as well as courses in Mathematics and Astronomy, was leaving town with his family and followers to undertake an undisclosed mission for none other than the Almighty himself. This spiritual hero, whose willingness to become a martyr for his belief landed him in the fiery furnaces of King Nimrod, and yet miraculously survived, was now leading a road trip where every step would carry with it eternal consequences for his children and all future generations. Through studying this amazing spiritual journey we see that Avraham was really tracing the steps for all of our own spiritual journeys and the mission of every Jewish soul.
Avraham’s first test was his willingness to be burned for his belief; only after that did the Almighty appear to him and send him packing. In order to really live life for a cause, one must be ready to die for that cause. Once we have clarity in what we are ready to die for, we can now begin to live for it. For only then will find the drive to separate ourselves from that culture and those people that we have become so comfortable with, to set off to that ‘place of the unknown’.
After beginning to take a tour of the beautiful, soon-to-be-his, land of Canaan, the future Israel, Avraham is suddenly tested with the next set of tests. When a hunger spreads through Canaan, Avraham’s next move was to head down to Egypt, homeland of the most immoral and impure nation in the world. The first steps of our spiritual journeys are usual uplifting and exciting, and every stone we turn over uncovers more light that uplifts us. But just as we think we have found bliss, comes our next set of tests, as we start feeling a ‘hunger’ to be elsewhere, very often leading us to the places of immorality we worked so hard to separate ourselves from.
But Avraham knew that it was specifically in this dark place that he must reveal the greatest light. And it was specifically through the level of purity he and his wife Sarah attained there, that the Jewish nation who would eventually descend to that same immoral place, were empowered to resist all temptations. Despite falling to the 49 level of impurity, they would not intermingle and intermarry into the Egyptian society. It was that thread of purity that they maintained which was the key to them becoming the nation that would receive the Torah at Sinai.
When a Jew finds himself back in these dark places, he must maintain focus that he was put there to extract the light, and just holding on to that last thread of purity might just be enough to elevate us to levels we could not have even fathomed before.
Avraham’s next test lead him to the frontlines of a heated war, face to face with an adversary from his past, King Nimrod, who had come back to “settle the score”. But Avraham would emerge victorious. These are those inevitable moments on our journey when are forced to wage war with our spiritual enemies from the past, and miraculously emerge victorious, making us realize how far we have really come. Through those high points and low points, the times when our destination seems close and the times when it seems distant, by following those steps that Avraham traced for us, we begin to taste the sweetness of those moments of victory when we know that every step in our journey is leading us closer to that promised land that is waiting for us.