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One of the difficult tests Avraham Avinu faced was when Nimrod threw him into the (Kivshan Haish) fire. It is not mentioned in the Torah at all. Why?

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5 Answers 5

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Though Rashi (Avot 5:3) lists the Kivshan Haish among Avraham Avinu's 10 trials, the Rambam counts only the trials listed in the Torah among the 10 trials that Avraham faced. So in his view, Kivshan Haish was not 10 of Avraham's 10 trials.

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What does the Rambam replace it with? –  Gershon Gold Oct 17 '10 at 18:39
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He counts having to marry Hagar (because Sarah was childless) as one of them. –  Alex Oct 18 '10 at 5:43
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  1. Ramban (to Gen. 12:2) says that the Torah didn't want to go into everything that happened between Avraham and the idolators of his native country, because it doesn't want to have to explain their theological ideas.

  2. In one of his talks (Likkutei Sichos, vol. 25, pp. 47ff), the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l explains that the Torah indeed wants to make it look as though Avraham was chosen by G-d for no discernible reason. This is meant to teach us that the chosenness and uniqueness of the Jewish People - of whom Avraham was the first - is ultimately based not on intellectual understanding of G-dliness (which indeed was Avraham's gigantic and independent accomplishment from age three onward), but because it is His choice and His initiative. Accordingly, our fundamental relationship with Hashem has to be based on simple and unquestioning kabbalas ol (acceptance of His commandments) - as demonstrated by Avraham's leaving his family and nativity, and venturing into the unknown at G-d's command. (In turn, he says, this also means that when you meet a Jew who doesn't yet know what it means to have a relationship with G-d, start with a practical mitzvah - even if he or she doesn't understand what it's about - and the rest will follow.)

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Re #2: similar line of thought in the Maharal -- "why are Jews the chosen people? Because G-d chose them." –  Shalom Oct 18 '10 at 10:01
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We don't learn to our own lives things from the Ur Kasdim miracle. Since there Avraham started disputing (he broke the idols of his father), but for the halocha until somebody interfering our lives we don't have to proof to all that we are right. Avraham made so because it was his way to spread the monotheism in the world.

It is described in the Book of Daniel about the miracle of Hannan'ya Mishael and Azar'ya in many details, because that story learn us how to behave in situation when somebody do interfering our lives.

Same answer for many miracles that are not mentioned by Torah, like this one.

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The answer you gave is brought down in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua M'Kotno. –  Gershon Gold Oct 17 '10 at 20:43
    
@Gershon Gold, Thanks for the source. –  jutky Oct 18 '10 at 6:37
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I think there are two important points to be made in considering this question.

1) Many of the insights provided to us by the midrashim regarding Avraham's "youth" (i.e. up to 70 years old, when we are told the first narrative information about his life other than birth, marriage and relatives dying) bridge the gap between the world of sin/non-recognition of God that we've known about since [Enosh or] No'ach and the rapid development of monotheism. This development, which was catalyzed by many possible epiphanic events in those 70 years, is not central to the Torah's primary message of carrying out service of God once He has presented us with requirements, or to Sefer B'reshis's primary purpose of establishing the Divine process of determining and delivering [contingent] stewardship of the Land by B'nei Yisra'el (for lack of a better term). The Torah almost never spends time on "character development" - expect it as one might from a literary narrative.

2) Given that, the Midrash points out several allusions to the furnace incident in the Torah and other s'farim, including the very name of Avraham's hometown, אוּר (!=אוֹר) כשדים.

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WAF- Avraham's birthplace is disputed. See Ramban at the end of Noach who strongly believes he was born in Charan. Although Haran was definitely born in Ur, as the Torah spells out. –  YDK Oct 17 '10 at 4:43
    
Edited. Thanks. –  WAF Oct 17 '10 at 14:54
    
It is אוּר itself that means "furnace" or "blaze". No need to change it to אוֹר which means "light". –  Yahu Oct 18 '10 at 18:27
    
Wow. That was a serious typo. Thanks. –  WAF Oct 18 '10 at 22:12
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Perhaps to suggest a different approach. Perhaps the reason it is not mentioned in the Torah is because it didn't actually happen. It is a Medrash that demands explanation, but we are not bound to take it literally (see other responses on taking Medrashim litarally). Perhaps the interpretation can better be understood by understanding what Avraham did. Avrham grew up in a society of Pagan Idolaters. He through careful analysis and thought came to the conclusion that this belief system is wrong. He showed clear proofs and arguments as to the fallacy of worshiping idols. He was against the prevalent religious view of the times. He began to share his views with people. He began to have a following of people (Rambam reports thousands). This put him in a very dangerous position. Nimrod himself according to the commentary (see seforno, Bereshit 10,10 on Tower of Babel) used the peoples religious beliefs to gain power over the people. Avraham was a threat to his plans to gain power. Perhaps the Medrash is suggesting that it was due to Hashem's assistance that Avraham was able to navigate the political terrain and survive. Exactly what the situation was, I don't know, but it was a dangerous political situation and one wrong move could have been the end of Avraham. We have seen many philosophers confronted with similar situations in history. So, it doesn't mean literally a oven of fire, but that Hashem assisted Avraham from the political fires that threatened Avraham's life. (See Rambam Hilchot Avodat Chochavim Chapter 1, Law 1)

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Ibn Ezra also believes that it did not happen. –  jake May 25 '11 at 6:13
    
Thanks, I will check it out. –  RCW May 25 '11 at 15:44
    
If you down vote can you at least provide some constructive criticism or question? Thank you. I appreciate any feedback. –  RCW May 26 '11 at 5:53
    
also, the details of this midrash are likely drawn from sefer Daniel. much as midrashim regarding Pharaoh's dreams are drawn from sefer Daniel. ideological opposite often results in downvotes, i think. however, in analyzing this midrash as non-historical, you seem to adopt as historical a bunch of other events which are outside the literal Biblical text. –  josh waxman Jun 22 '12 at 19:12
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