What kind of a relationship did Abraham have with his father? Many of us were raised on stories that detail how Abraham rejected the idolatrous ways of his father. His zeal was such that he went so far as to destroy his parents' idol-selling business, smashing the inventory when entrusted with operating the store. Terach, having little use for his rebellious son, handed him over to Nimrod who proceeded to throw Abraham into a fiery furnace. Abraham when told by G-d to leave his family home was no doubt happy to leave his idolatrous past behind.
As we mature we become well aware that none of the above stories are mentioned in the Biblical text (an issue raised by the Ramban). One could, if focusing only on the written word of the Torah, come to a very different conclusion.
"And Terach took his son Abram, and Lot the son of his son Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai the wife of Abram his son, and he went with them from Ur Casdim heading towards the land of Canaan" (11:31). It was Terach who made the first attempt to move to the land of Canaan , the future homeland of the Jewish people. Of Terach's three sons, only Abraham accompanied him on his journey. The Torah, in an apparent redundancy, notes that Sarai his daughter in law is the wife of Abram his son, highlighting the bond between father and son. It sure seems like a pretty solid relationship. G-d's command to Abraham to "Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father's home to the land that I will show you" (12:1) can be seen as the fulfillment of a mission begun by Terach.
Our Sages commenting on the tripled instruction "from your land, birthplace and father's home", note that the Torah is describing the degrees of difficulty in Abraham's journey to his new land. It is difficult to leave one's land, and even more difficult still to leave one's birthplace. Leaving one's parental home - and once Abraham left he never saw his parents again - is the most difficult of all. Surely it should not be difficult to leave home if one has already severed all ties with one's parents and chosen a completely different lifestyle.
Yet it took a direct command from G-d for Abraham to leave his father's home and begin the journey to Canaan . Abraham had to turn his back on his past, his upbringing and his father. Not necessarily because he wanted to but rather because he needed to do so if he were to revolutionize the world.
At the beginning of his Laws of Idolatry, the Rambam notes that originally, idolatry began as a mistake. People wanting to worship a G-d they could not see, mistakenly believed it proper to worship His creations; the sun, stars and moon.
The Rambam in a fascinating (and previously censored) historical vignette codified from his legal code ( Hilchot Melachim 11:4) notes that we can never fathom the ways of the Almighty. Thus, despite the many calamities caused to the Jewish people by the adherents of Christianity and Islam, the Rambam "rules" that Christianity and Islam have paved the road to belief in a personal Messiah and the worship of G-d.
Rav Kook notes that avodah zara , idolatry, contains within it avodah , worship of G-d that in the end has tragically gone astray. But we must recognize the avodah zara often contains sincere avodah , searching and seeking G-d even if in a perverse manner. As strange as it sounds perhaps only by growing up in a home steeped in avodah zara could Avraham eventually begin the path to proper avodah . Abraham, it seems to me, loved his father dearly, was close to him and willingly accompanied him on his journeys.
Yet ultimately, it is impossible for avodat Hashem, proper worship of G-d, to exist in an environment of avodah zara . The Torah constantly warns of the dangers of avodah zara as it is precisely those who strive to serve G-d who are in danger of "foreign worship". Terach started the journey to G-d but he was incapable of finishing that journey. Abraham was to sever the ties with the avodah zara of his youth. He was to follow the command of G-d, lech lecha , to "go for yourself" and found a great nation so that "through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed".