- Avraham's Jewel
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Understanding allegories literally is a grave mistake. The
Rabbis of blessed memory composed metaphors and allegories to
teach us many ideas in a concise format.
- One such metaphor is the Rabbi's statement, (Baba Basra 16b)
"Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said, 'A precious stone was suspended
on Abraham's neck(1), and any sickly person who saw it was instantly
healed. And when Abraham died, G-d suspended it on the sphere
of the sun." Literally understood,
we cannot fathom how a stone can effect someone's health. However,
taken as the Rabbis intended, as a metaphor, I offer an
interpretation of "Avraham's jewel" which I feel makes
more sense than taking it literally.
- Avraham was known for teaching the ideas of monotheism to thousands of people. His speech was the tool used
to direct masses in following the Creator. Perhaps the Rabbis
meant that Avraham's speech, (allegorized as a jewel around his
neck), cured incorrect notions among the masses. The Rabbis simply
exchanged "speech" for the term "precious stone"
as both are prized objects, and the "neck" is the source
of speech. When Abraham died, his teachings continued through
G-d's will, influencing many others to the reality of the Creator
of the universe. This is described as G-d suspending the stone
(Abraham's teachings) on the sun. This indicates that Abraham's
teachings directed others towards the reality of the Creator
of the universe, allegorized as the most dominant element in
the universe, the sun.
Rabbi Bachaye (2) offered the same interpretation of the jewel, but suggested the hanging of the jewel on the sun after Abraham's death meant there were no others who spread monotheisim like Abraham. The sun alone attested to the Creator.
(1) This metaphor is also
used by King Solomon in Proverbs, 1:9)
(2) Introduction to Parshas Yisro