Lech Lecha. Is Faith Innate or Acquired?
“R. Levi said in Reish Lakish’s name: Abraham recognized his maker at age three.
R. Hanina and R. Yochanan disagreed: Abraham was forty-eight when he recognized his maker” Gen. Rabba 30:8
What seems like a technical disagreement is in fact a deep difference of opinion regarding the nature of faith.
If Abraham found God at age forty-eight, it was an adult decision, a product of his life experience and the result of serious thought and consideration.
But if Abraham found God at age three, it was something innate, a sort of predisposition with which Abraham was born. When he began to talk, he was already talking about God. He just believed.
So please discuss:
Is faith something you are born with or something you acquire?
Is faith just there or do you have to work at it, seek and discover at a later stage in life as a product of rich and deep experience and thought?
Maimonides tells a different story:
Once Abraham was weaned, he, as a child, began contemplating and thinking day and night, and wondered how a planet could follow a fixed path without being directed. If so, who directed it? Surely it would be impossible for it to rotate on its own! Abraham did not have a mentor, but was immersed among the foolish idolaters of Ur Casdim, where everyone, including his mother