The following Dvar Torah is from Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon shlita, Rav of Alon Shevut, head of Machon Lev, and founder of numerous educational and tzedakah organizations in Israel:
Up until this point, the Torah has not clearly revealed Hashem’s choice of Avraham. In our Parsha, Hashem explains for the first time the reason (Genesis 18, 19):
“For I have known him because he commands his sons and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the Lord to perform righteousness and justice, in order that the Lord bring upon Abraham that which He spoke concerning him.” Avraham’s character is defined by doing the “way of the Lord” and performing “righteousness and justice.”
The Midrash (Vayikra Raba, Bechukotai) brings a most surprising perspective on this verse. It explains that Avraham was miraculously saved from Nimrod’s fiery furnace because Hashem foresaw that his descendant would be Yaakov. This is alluded to in Isaiah 29, 22: “Therefore, so said the Lord to the House of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham…”
In fact, our Sages state, based on the verse in our Parsha, that Avraham only came to this world because of his grandson, Yaakov! Justice and righteousness can only be found in Yaakov (Tehilim 99, 4): “….judgement and righteousness You made in Jacob.”
Our Sages introduce an amazing revolutionary concept. Avraham was saved from the furnace and, perhaps, was even created – thanks to Yaakov, who, in the future will represent judgement and righteousness! Seemingly, this verse greatly diminishes Avraham’s stature so while it may have been intended to describe Avraham’s greatness, now appears to describe Yaakov’s greatness! However, the opposite is true – this demonstrates the special greatness of Avraham. Avraham was not chosen because of his intrinsic, independent presence in the world, but rather because he set in motion the establishment of the Jewish people! Avraham was not chosen because of his unique personality, but rather because he would bequeath his traits to his progeny; not only because he would educate Am Yisrael (“…because he commands his sons and his household after him…”), but that they would act accordingly (“…that they should keep the way of the Lord to perform righteousness and justice…”). Avraham is the founder, the leader and the pre-eminent educator of the entire Jewish people. However, Am Yisrael itself is the reason for Hashem’s choice of Avraham. Avraham was chosen due to the Divine knowledge that Am Yisrael will emanate from him.
Acting out of righteousness and justice defines Avraham, and epitomizes and obligates his descendants. It may be that this refers to acting with righteousness and justice, with integrity and morality. And it is possible that this refers to righteousness in the sense of chessed, and justice in the sense of rule of the law – a synthesis of chessed and righteousness together with law and honesty. Integrity and righteousness are universally important. However, for Am Yisrael they serve as a defining and central characteristic – they constitute the very foundation of His choice of Am Yisrael. We must always strive for integrity and righteousness, to go in the way of Hashem, and to pray that just as Hashem loves righteousness and justice, so will His love for His people never waver – “May your love never be removed from us”!