Abraham is undoubtedly one of the most successful people in history. He began with an idea that pitted him against the entire world, but now, three millennia later, his ideas are mainstream.

Abraham was called Ivri, “the Hebrew,” which literally means “from the other side,” not just because he arrived in Canaan from the other side of the river, but because, figuratively,Abraham the Hebrew was the outcast he was “on the other side” of society’s belief system. While society was pagan, Abraham the Hebrew was the outcast, the one who believed in one G‑d.

And today, the majority of the world’s population, more than 3.8 billion people, consider themselves adherents to an Abrahamic religion.

How did Abraham view his achievements during his lifetime? What did he see as his mission? And how did he evaluate his own accomplishments?

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about Abraham dispatching his servant Eliezer to Charan to find a wife for his son Isaac. While instructing Eliezer about the details of his mission, Abraham assures Eliezer that G‑d will help him succeed in finding a proper match for Isaac. Abraham says:

The L‑rd, G‑d of the heavens, Who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth, and Who spoke about me, and Who swore to me, saying, “To your seed will I give this land,” He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.1

Rashi, the classic commentator on the Torah, is intrigued by Abraham’s description of G‑d. In this verse, Abraham refers to G‑d only as the “G‑d of heavens.” Yet, in an earlier verse, Abraham refers to G‑d as the “the G‑d of the heaven and the G‑d of the earth.” Why the change? Rashi explains that Abraham was telling Eliezer the following:

Now He is the G‑d of the heaven and the G‑d of the earth, because I have made Him familiar in the mouths of the people, but when He took me from my father’s house, He was the G‑d of the heavens but not the G‑d of the earth, because mankind did not acknowledge Him, and His name was not familiar on the earth.2

When Abraham first heeded G‑d’s calling, leaving his father’s home and journeying to what would become the Land of Israel, G‑d was only the G‑d of the heavens. Now, Abraham was saying, after decades of work, G‑d is not only the G‑d of heaven, but He is also the G‑d of the earth. He is at home in both realms.

This is Abraham’s achievement. Abraham is not satisfied with a G‑d in heaven; Abraham wants G‑d to be felt right here on earth.

Each of our lives is made up of “heaven” and “earth.” There are moments when we are connected to spirituality, prayer, acts of kindness, and Torah study, moments when we sense the Divine.

Then, there are the “earth” moments. Moments when we feelThe core of Judaism is to bridge the gap between heaven and earth that our existence is mundane. We may be at work, eating lunch, running errands, sitting in traffic; the list goes on.

Abraham teaches us that the core of Judaism is to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. The message of Judaism is that G‑d wants to feel at home not only in heaven, but also on earth, that we can and should infuse our earthly activities with spirituality and meaning.

To be a Jew is to experience that G‑d is “G‑d of the heaven and the G‑d of the earth.”3