What would you do for what you believe in? What dangers would you allow to intensify in not abrogating your religion? Would you pull up the stakes and journey to a strange and new place because someone told you to?
We all know the main story of Abram who is told by God to leave his ancestral land to go to an unknown land, but this story has repeated itself in a less holy, more comedic version. In the Frisco Kid, Gene Wilder’s character, Avram Balinski, a kindhearted and innocent scholar emigrates from Poland to the United States in the mid 1800s to provide for the fledgling Gold Rush town of San Francisco their first Torah, their first Rabbi, and a husband for the lovely daughter of the Shul President. He readily agrees. He goes through so much pain and danger to recover and protect his Torah scroll, to keep the Sabbath, to save face and protect his name and the Jewish people. He is a true son of Abraham, a light unto the nations.
The Two Avrams (Avraham Avinu and Rabbi Avram Balinski) both go through trials by fire. In a famous midrash, a young Abram discovers God and monotheism at age 3 and in maintaining his belief is thrown in a fiery furnace by the wicked king Nimrod. This story is also represented in the pshat of the Book of Daniel where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown in the furnace by the king of the same country 1,500 years later for having the same beliefs. And Rabbi Avram Balinski is willing to go through purification-by-fire from the Native Americans in order to recover his Torah.
The similarities continue but the Sabbath approaches so I suggest you either read the parasha or rent the Mel Brooks movie.
Here are some more similarities I noticed to keep you occupied: Harrison Ford’s character = either Melchitzedek or Lot, those antagonist brothers = the nine kings. They both traveled west and lost things on the way. Both suffered famine along the way and were somehow saved from it. Both had to disguise themselves at some point.