Friday, 30 October 2020
"Someone who had escaped came and told Avram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Emori, brother of Eshkol and brother of 'Aner; all of them allies of Avram." (Genesis 14:13, CJB)
This is the first time we find this phrase "Avram the Hebrew". The Hebrew for "Hebrew" comes from the word Iv'ri - to cross boundaries. So literally, the father of our people was known as Avram the Boundary-Crosser.
What do you think this says about his character and how he was perceived by the people he interacted with? To be a boundary-crosser isn't accidental, I think you know what you are doing - and certainly those around you will recognise those boundaries. So maybe it was because he physically travelled over land and people boundaries in Canaan; maybe it was because he had left his land and had crossed to an alien one; or maybe it was because he interacted with everyone didn't adhere to some of the normal social boundaries that every society has.
Avraham Aveinu is also the first Hebrew, the one that G-d made a covenant with "for you and for your descendants". If he was a boundary-crosser and we carry that in our name, the Hebrews, what do you think that says about our us and how we are to be perceived by people today? Maybe we should be people who are not afraid to leave our lands, security and comforts to travel to with G-d new places, new people and new things; maybe we should interact with everyone with politeness and respect, in spite of the societal expectations of difference and of being suspicious of "the other".
We live in such a global society and sometimes the boundaries of culture, education, upbringing, faith, morals and politics are so stark and so big. How do we recognise and then respond to these boundaries, these markers or even walls? How should we respond? Certainly in faith, knowing where we stand. Are we strong enough to reach out beyond these differences to show G-d's love, compassion and kindness? Do we know which boundaries we should cross?
This Shabbat, let us contemplate how we are called to be boundary-crossers and ask Him who is the Ultimate Boundary-Crosser!
"For God is one; and there is but one Mediator between God and humanity, Yeshua the Messiah, Himself human" (1 Timothy 2:5, CJB)