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In relation to another question of mine Avraham a father of many

Bereshit 12:2-3 reads: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

How (in which way/sense) is it that Avraham would be a blessing, and how is it that in him all the mishpachat of the earth are blessed?

  • Barukh ... Magen Avraham – Double AA May 21 '17 at 12:52
  • What's the down vote for? He's just asking for an explanation of the passuk. – DonielF May 21 '17 at 15:45
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And be thou a blessing

Rashi (Genesis 12:2) and R. Hayyim Paltiel (there) explain that it means that Abraham would be a source of blessing. That is, that he was granted the ability to bless others.

Radak and Ramban (there) explain that Abraham will be become so blessed, he will become a reference point for blessing, and other people will wish others that should be as blessed as Abraham.

Bekhor Shor (there) and Hizkuni (there) translate it is as "there will be blessing"; not "you will be a blessing". They explain that blessing will be found in all that Abraham would do.

And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed

Rashi (Genesis 12:3) explains that people would bless their children that they be like Abraham.

Ibn Ezra (Second commentary to Genesis 12:3) explains that others would be blessed because of Abraham.

Similarly, Radak (Genesis 12:3) explains (and this is probably Ibn Ezra's intent as well) that the inhabitants of any nation in which Abraham would dwell would be blessed.

Abravanel (Genesis 12: s.v. V'e'eskha) explains that Abraham's neighbors would be blessed through Abraham spreading his religious message.

Ramban (Genesis 12:2) mentions both the explanations of Rashi and Ibn Ezra.

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I found this online: http://jewishstandard.timesofisrael.com/lech-lecha-all-the-families-of-the-earth/

A bold line of commentators, led by Rashbam (Rashi’s grandson, 12th c. France), offer something completely different. They point out that the Hebrew root “b-r-ch,” which almost always refers to “blessing” (as in “Baruch Atah…,” “Blessed are You…), also has a horticultural meaning, “to graft” one plant onto another. They translate the seventh promise, “All the families of the earth shall be grafted onto you.” Rashbam explains, “the families of the earth shall be mixed into your family.” The commentary Chizkuni (13th c. France) goes further: “The leading families of the land will be mixed with you, so that you won’t be considered foreigners or strangers among them.”

Is it possible?! At the very moment when God singles out the family of Abram and Sarai to be distinct from all other clans and nations; in a Torah that is so concerned about assimilation, which legislates the separation of the Israelites from other peoples at every turn; and given hundreds if not thousands of years of Jewish anxiety about intermarriage in particular-can we imagine that the capstone promise of God’s first message to Abraham is precisely to be mixed with the other families of the earth?

This radical possibility has its roots in a passage from the Talmud:

Rabbi Elazar said: “Why is it written, ‘All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by [shall be grafted onto] you?’ The Holy One said to Abraham, ‘I have two good shoots to graft onto you: Ruth the Moabite and Naamah the Ammonite.'” (Yevamot 63a)

Upon joining herself to the Jewish people, Ruth the Moabite became the great-grandmother of King David. Naamah the Ammonite married King Solomon, and her descendants included the righteous kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah.

The metaphor is beautiful: Non-Jews who join us (not even necessarily by converting) are like living shoots: growing together with us, sharing in the strength and sustenance of our roots, bearing new fruit. The implication is profound: Mixing with the other families of the earth is not a tragedy or a threat to Judaism, but a blessing to all of us and a fulfillment of God’s ancient promise to Abraham.

This is the true spirit of outreach, a grateful understanding of the opportunity to share the richness of Judaism with others. By welcoming and encouraging interfaith families and anyone seeking a spiritual home, we enable our community to grow in new directions.

In taking up the story of our patriarchs and matriarchs, the Torah does not abandon the rest of humanity. God’s promise to Abraham reminds us that ultimately, our mission and destiny are joined with those of all the families of the earth.

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