In the begining of this weeks sedra, the Lord tells Abraham that he will become a source of blessing for all peoples. With a little help from my friends, and Ezzie, I've been knocking around some ideas about what this might mean. My hunch is that God (and yes, heretics, you'll have to put aside all your inconvinient ideas about the Torah being a work of men, and God being a myth. Work with me) My hunch is that God meant that Abraham's decendants would introduce into the word certain ideas which would materially improve our lives. Some examples:
1 - We're in control of our own destiny Before the Jews, ancient men saw the world in cyclical terms: nothing we do matters, none of us matter, life does not matter. It will all happen again. It has all happened before. And so on. Judaism introduced a new model, and taught that man can influence the future. With this great thought comes the great idea of human freedom, ie., the idea that we are not bound to some predetermined fate.
2 - Concern for the vulnerable Much as the GOP hates to admit it, this idea is every bit as much a part of the Judeo/Christian tradition as their love of lucre and hatred of gays, women and furry animals. Maybe more so, come to think of it. (UPDATE: I've just been informed that the Republicans no longer have any problem with furry animals, or women who, quote, know their place. My apologies.)
3 - The day of rest and from this, the 5 day week, the eight-hour day and yummy benefits like casual Friday soon followed.
4 - Justice without justification The marvelous idea that good is good only because it is good - and not because it might make some warlord (or some Haliburton executive) richer or stronger - is ours as well.
...and thou shalt be a blessing, indeed.