From the opening of Hartman Institute Master Teacher, Prof. Noam Zion and Steve Israel’s curriculum, “The First Jew – A Journey Begun with a Fateful Choice“:
Abraham is rightly designated, according to the Bible, as “the pillar of the world”: “The term `rock’ was used figuratively to designate the root and principle of every thing. It is on this account that after saying: `Look unto the rock whence you were hewn,’ the Tanakh continues (Isaiah 51:1-2): `Look unto Abraham your father; and so on, giving, as it were, an interpretation according to which the rock whence you were hewn was Abraham your father. Tread therefore in his footsteps, adhere to his religion, and acquire his character” (Maimonides, Guide I.16, III.29)
With Torah portion “Lech Lecha” coming up this Shabbat (Nov. 7), it seemed as good a time as any to study a little about Abraham. In this weekly reading, Abram is told to leave his homeland and start a nation dedicated to the one God. His name is changed to Abraham along the way.
Zion has now made a massive curriculum about Abraham available to all for free. It’s an amazing compilation of erudite learning, practical exercises for students, source material and much, much more. It is certainly worthwhile reading for everyone from beginners and casual students of Torah to scholars. Jewish high school and Talmud Torah teachers will find the material invaluable. Here are a few of the headings and titles:
The Choice of Avraham
Introducing Avraham and the Chosen People
Why a Chosen people? Who is Abram? And why was he chosen?
Avraham was not God’s First Choice!
What is God’s History of Choosing?
The Missing Chapters of Avraham’s Biography
There is even more source material, downloads, and links available.
On a personal note, I have always felt close to Abraham – he is my (Hebrew) namesake, and this portion, Lech Lecha, was my bar mitzvah portion oh those many years ago. If you insist on knowing, send me an email, and I will tell you… 🙂 I got a great deal out of Noam’s material, and so will you.