Our rabbis famously debate the righteousness of Noach. Was he a tzadik only relative to the corrupt society in which he lived, or was his righteousness that much greater because he attained it in such in a corrupt generation? While they debate the righteousness of Noach, there seems to be little debate regarding Terach. He was an idolater—not just any standard idolater, but a purveyor of idols thereby spreading idolatry far and wide. It was his son, the Midrash claims, who, left to guard the idol store, destroyed his father’s wares, mocking the silly beliefs of Terach.
"And there was an argument between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock, and the Canaanite and the Perizite were then in the land" (Breisheet 13:7).
“G-d said to Avram, go away from your county, your birthplace and your father’s home, to the land that I will show you” (Breisheet 12:1). While it is self-evident that Avraham would take his wife with him, it is not at all obvious that his nephew Lot would or should accompany him. Perhaps it was precisely his family—parents, sibling, cousins, nieces and nephews— that he must leave behind in order to establish a great nation in a faraway land.
We tend to view Adam as a failure at life, unable to obey his only command from G-d. Noach was better, but we tend to see him as someone who could have done so much more than what he did. Only with the advent of Abraham do we have the person who is finally capable of bringing G-d's message to mankind.
The Divine choosing of Avraham marks the beginning of Jewish peoplehood. Tellingly, this relationship begins with G-d's command (obeying G-d's commands is the primary function we have) lech lecha,"go for you from your land, your birthplace, and from your father's home" (12:1). We are told little of Avraham's journey to Israel, though one can only imagine how difficult it must have been, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
“And G-d said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land, your birthplace and the land of your fathers’”. With nary a word, Abram picks himself up and, along with his wife and nephew, departs for an unknown land. Yet his stay there is short, as soon afterwards famine ensues and Abram descends to the land of Egypt.
Was this a prudent move to feed his family, realizing—as he did—that one may not rely on miracles? Or did Abram demonstrate a lack of faith in G-d, who had promised Abram that in his new land he would become the leader of a great nation?
“And Terach’s years were 205 years, and Terach died in Charan. G-d said to Abram, Go away from your land, your birthplace and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (11:30-12:1).
Judaism and modern western thought both teach the supremacy of man's freedom of choice. For modern man, freedom is rooted in the notion of individual rights, guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Charter of Rights. Man has the right to pursue happiness, provided he causes no harm to others. For Jews, the importance of freedom is rooted in morality, not liberty. Only with the ability to choose evil does the choice of good merit praise. The entire notion of reward and punishment is rooted in the doctrine of free choice.
"G-d said to Abraham, ‘Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you' (12:1)".