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A PERFECT THOUGHT

by Micah Gimpel    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

While Noah is characterized as already being perfect when we first encounter him, the Torah implies that Abraham has not yet attained this level of perfection when Hashem charges Abraham: "Walk before me and be perfect" (Genesis 17:1).

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While Noah is characterized as already being perfect when we first encounter him, the Torah implies that Abraham has not yet attained this level of perfection when Hashem charges Abraham: "Walk before me and be perfect" (Genesis 17:1). Although the Torah qualifies the compliment to Noah limiting his perfection to within his generation, Abraham, as an individual, lacks some trait such that Hashem could not describe Abraham as perfect and Hashem must direct him along a certain path. Why is Hashem advising Abraham to "be perfect" and in what way is Abraham deficient?

Abraham had a tricky and complicated mission in life. His independent revelation of the truth of monotheism placed him in uncharted territory where he would need to investigate avenues never before traversed. And, much like a path-maker in the wilderness, Abraham must pursue directions that could get him hopelessly lost or even lead him to life-threatening and mission-undermining destinations. Being an innovator, Abraham must take chances in order to develop, clarify, and understand this revolutionary concept of monotheism. In doing so, a real possibility emerges of his being led astray. This fact does not hint to a weakness in Abraham's faith, Heaven forbid, but it rather bespeaks of a truly complicated and intricate thought with many ingredients contributing to the final conclusion. Although today we understand the concept of a single G-d as almost intuitive, Abraham discovered and formulated the notion of monotheism from nothing (ex nihilo). Hashem, understanding all the potential pitfalls and detours that Abraham will likely face, advises Abraham to "walk before Him". However, while walking before him, Abraham must "be perfect" in his pursuit in order to ensure the proper path.

Everyone has missions in life - personal, familial and communal. In every mission potential threats abound and we run the risk of straying from the correct destination. Even when we are charting our own paths, detours can cause us to lose our direction. As long as we strive for perfection, we can continue to pursue our mission with a degree of security. Of course, the threat still exists but only to a lesser degree. Abraham can and must traverse unknown ground, but with an orientation and mentality of sincerity and impeccability. We too must strive for perfection, reaching higher with a determined sincerity.

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Micah Gimpel, a native Atlantan and graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is a senior at Yeshiva University in New York.

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