How did the Jewish faith come into existence?

The Midrash describes the birth of Judaism with the following cryptic parable:

"And G‑d said to Abraham: 'Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father's house...'" (Genesis12:2) — To what may this be compared? To a man who was traveling from place to place when he saw a palace in flames. He wondered: "Is it possible that the palace has no owner?" The owner of the palace looked out and said, "I am the owner of the palace." So Abraham our father said, "Is it possible that the world lacks a ruler?" G‑d looked out and said to him, "I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe."

Abraham's bewilderment is clear. This sensitive human being gazes at a brilliantly structured universe, a splendid piece of art. He is overwhelmed by the grandeur of a sunset and by the miracle of childbirth; he marvels at the roaring ocean waves and at the silent, steady beat of the human heart. The world is indeed a palace.

But the palace is in flames. The world is full of bloodshed, injustice and strife. Thugs, abusers, rapists, kidnappers and killers are continuously demolishing the palace, turning our world into an ugly tragic battlefield of untold pain and horror.

What happened to the owner of the palace? Abraham cries. Why does G‑d allow man to destroy His world? Why does He permit such a beautiful palace to go up in flames? Could G‑d have made a world only to abandon it? Would anyone build a palace and then desert it?

The Midrash records G‑d's reply: "The owner of the palace looked out and said: 'I am the owner of the palace.' G‑d looked out and said to Abraham: 'I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe.'"

What is the meaning of G‑d's response?

Note that the owner of the palace does not make an attempt to get out of the burning building or to extinguish the flames. He is merely stating that He is the owner of the palace that is going up in smoke. It is as if, instead of racing out, the owner were calling for help. G‑d made the palace, man set it on fire, and only man can put out the flames. Abraham asks G‑d, "Where are you?" G‑d replies, "I am here, where are you?" Man asks G‑d, "Why did You abandon the world?" G‑d asks man, "Why did you abandon Me?"

Thus began the revolution of Judaism --- humanity's courageous venture to extinguish the flames of immorality and bloodshed and restore the world to the harmonious and sacred palace it was intended to be. Abraham's encounter with G‑d in the presence of a burning palace gave birth to the mission statement of Judaism - to be obsessed with good and horrified by evil. (Midrash Rabbah Bereishit 39:1; as interpreted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in Radical Then, Radical Now, Harper Collins, 2000).