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The Voice of the Lord

SHEVAT
4

Avraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey (Genesis 22:3).

The Talmud notes that Abraham does something most unusual in this passage of Scripture. Why does he, a man of dignity and wealth, rise up early to saddle his own donkey? Surely it would have been more proper to leave this task to the two young men who accompanied him on his way to Mount Moriah. The sages explain that Abraham rose early in his zeal to obey God.He was so eager to carry out God's directive to offer up Isaac that he personally attended to every detail of the journey.

The Torah tells of another prominent man who also rose early to saddle his own donkey—Balaam the prophet. Like Abraham, he was motivated by great zeal, but not zeal to obey God.He was zealous to earn the commission offered him in exchange for cursing Israel. He saddled his own donkey like Abraham, but rode off in the opposite direction, in defiance of God's will.

Zeal is good; without it, we will accomplish little. However, we need to foster zeal for God above all else. A multitude of things demand our enthusiasm but count for little in the end. Let us avoid "the way of Bil'am Ben-B'or who loved the wages of doing harm" (2 Peter 2:15), and instead follow "in the footsteps of ...Avraham avinu [our father Abraham]," who loved righteousness (Romans 4:12).


...reserve my greatest enthusiasm for the things that matter to God.

RR     


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The Voice of the Lord, Copyright 1998 by the Lewis and Harriet Lederer Foundation, Inc. Published by Messianic Jewish Publishers, Distributed by Messianic Jewish Resources, www.messianicjewish.net. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No part of this article may be reproduced in print or on the web, or transmitted in any form, without the written permission of the publisher.