(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:40:21 -0500
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: The first Jew

Dede, in Torah Forum, Vol 4, Number 43, asks why Avraham, not MalKiTzedek
was the first Jew. I once heard a lecture from Rabbi Soloveitchick which I
believe answers this.

The Rav, citing the Rambam, noted that in the laws of idolatry Abraham is
described, by the Rambam, as "(A) he knew that (A1) there is one God (A2)
He alone should be served (no idolatry...)... and (B) he knew that (B1) the
world erred in its beliefs... "

The Rav points out that the sentence STRUCTURE is not a SIMPLE LIST of
things Abraham found out but a collection of 2 lists (indicated by the
repeated word "and he knew"). The first list discusses things about God
while the second list discusses the idea that one person can be right and
the rest of the world wrong.

The Rav explained that Abraham introduced two ideas to the world. The Rav
explicitly noted that Shaym knew about Monotheism just like Abraham (Dede's
question). However Shaym kept his religion to himself--he did not seek
converts...he taught those that came to him. Abraham however knew that the
whole world could be wrong...he therefore actively sought to change
people's behavior.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Rhendel @ mcs drexel edu