There are people who have a gift or talent, but they refuse to reveal it or share it with others. They may have great knowledge, but they keep it to themselves. They endeavor to acquire more knowledge, and perhaps even more spirituality and more holiness—for themselves.

Others feel that if anyone has a gift, talent or skill this surely has been given for a purpose: to share it with others who would benefit.

Abraham, the first Jew, the hero of this week's Torah reading,1 was one of the greatest examples of the philosophy that one's gifts should be shared with others.

Abraham had a gift—a Divine gift. In fact his gift was: the Divine. Although he was brought up by his parents to serve idols, in a generation steeped in idolatry, he had discovered that it is G‑d and no other who is Master of the world. What a beautiful thought! What a tremendous idea! G‑d the Creator of All is the source of all existence and of all goodness.

What did Abraham do with his newfound knowledge? He might have simply tried to gain more and more spiritual wisdom for himself. The Sages tell us that Abraham's initial spiritual focus was very exalted, far beyond the physical practicalities of the world. In fact his name Abram, before it was later changed,2 means "exalted father" (av ram), signifying an exalted level of consciousness. Despite this, he and his wife Sarah sought to teach other people, as Rashi tells us: Abraham would communicate with the men and inspire them with belief in G‑d, while Sarah would teach the women.3

Then the beginning of this week's reading tells us that G‑d told him to travel, "Go for yourself." This meant a kind of descent, towards worldliness, in order to share further his wisdom with others.4 The Midrash describes him as a phial of fragrant spices which is brought into the open so that others can benefit from its fragrance.5

We also learn that when he reached the Land of Israel "he called in the name of G‑d."6 Says the Talmud: Do not read this as meaning simply that Abraham himself called in the name of G‑d. It means that he caused others to call in the Name of G‑d.7

Wherever he went, Abraham and his wife Sarah fearlessly proclaimed knowledge of G‑d. One G‑d, one moral standard, expressed in the Seven Noahide Laws. This idea was so different from the current fashions of his time that Abraham was persecuted, his life was threatened, he was denigrated and derided. But he did not stop. Eventually he prevailed. His legacy is the Jewish Nation which has lived according to Divine teaching for thousands of years, and which has also generated an awareness of Monotheism in many parts of the world, paving the way for the Messiah.

G‑d gave a promise to Abraham: "All families of the earth will be blessed through you." The Torah and the later history of the Jewish people describe how this promise begins to come true, bringing positive illumination to every human being in the world.