“My beloved” is the stunning expression used by the prophet Isaiah to describe God’s feelings for Abraham. Why such love? Maimonides tells us that Abraham was a philosopher who spent day and night studying every known religion until he settled on monotheism and founded the Jewish people.
Abraham personifies the highest form of Judaism because his religion was not tainted by any ulterior motives; he simply served God out of intellectual honesty; “He loved truth because it was truth.”
In this week’s sidrah, we witness the second outstanding characteristic of our patriarch. When three men, dressed like idol worshippers, appear near his tent, Abraham rushes out to greet them and offer them hospitality. Later in the chapter, when he is confronted with the news that God wishes to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, Abraham rushes to their defence, praying to God and demanding a Divine reprieve.
It is in this context that God proclaims his love for Abraham, who with his wife Sarah will educate their descendants in the ways of loving-kindness and justice.
Evil, fundamentalist religion is associated with unquestioning belief; and a worship of God which leads to hatred of anyone who thinks differently. Abraham offers us an entirely different paradigm. His love of God was based on intellectual honesty and awareness that everyone is created in the image of God, resulting in an overwhelming love of humanity.
When our Judaism leads us to deep thought and love and respect for everyone, then we take a step closer to enhancing our romance with God.