Abram and God's Mutual Faith

As Abram and God demonstrate, Judaism understands faith as deep trust despite doubt, confusion, and suffering.

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A more recent biblical work, the Torah Temimah (by Rabbi Barukh Epstein, 19th-20th Century, Russia), understands our ambiguous sentence differently---that Abram trusted God and considered God's promise as evidence of God's righteousness. We often take for granted that we live in a habitable universe--the sun rises and sets with predictable regularity, the earth produces material which in turn nourishes other living things, and human beings are able to produce and raise children to adulthood. 

While the world may be far from perfect, it is--nonetheless--regular, reliable and vital. Evidence of God's promise is not hard to find. One way of understanding our verse, then, is to see in it God's willingness to trust Abraham. 

Another way to read the verse is to recognize Abraham's willingness to trust God. Both are far from predictable. Both represent little miracles. There is insight in both readings. Abram and God present faith as a willingness to trust, despite the reality of setbacks and suffering. Rather than some pale recital of a creed, Judaism insists on a rich trust, demonstrated not by spreading the word, but by living the deeds.

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Rabbi Bradley Artson

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Vice-President of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and Dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies. He served as a congregational rabbi in Southern California for ten years. Rabbi Artson?is the author of The Bedside Torah and co-author of a children's book, I Have Some Questions about God.