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Parshot Festivals

Go and do something you believe in

  • RabbiJuliaMargolis
According to the Torah portion this Shabbat, Lech Lecha, “The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1) Abraham got up and went.
by Rabbi Julia Margolis, Beit Luria Progressive Shul | Nov 07, 2019

The Hebrew people didn’t begin their life in the land of Israel, but outside it. From this first journey down to the present day, Jews have maintained their character as a wandering people, to and from the land of Israel.

Abraham was commanded to go. He had to leave all that was familiar and go and make a new life, a new story, that has never been told.

His inner voice commands him, “Go!” This voice is what drives Abraham to remove all that is “non-essential” in his life; to remove so called social convictions and beliefs. More to the point, it drives him to remove ill-conceived superstitions and obstacles that can stand in the way when we truly enter a search for the primary source of all things, the divine spark that lay at the root of Abraham’s being (and indeed all of our beings) and is the element of our spiritual being.

Sometimes how we get to where we are going matters less than our inner focus and determination to get to where we know, deep within ourselves, is where we need to be. We need to focus on our own “horizon”, to keep moving in that direction, and eventually we know that we will get there.

Lech Lecha starts with a powerful opening line. It’s clear that Abraham is a “ger”, he has chosen the path we know as Judaism. (Judaism didn’t yet exist, but the idea is that he was the first in the line of people who would come to be known as a Jew.) The word “ger” really means “stranger”. What makes Abraham a “ger” is that he goes on from his parent’s home.

Today, each of us is very much like Abraham. We too are “gerim”, strangers on a journey. Our journey is also one that takes us out from our parents’ homes, sometimes away from our families, and often to a new and strange land. There are so many challenges and tests during one’s journey.

We are “gerim”, all children of G-d. At the end of the day, at some time in our life, we had to pick up and leave.

Whether physically, or metaphorically, life’s journeys bind us to one another. Each life is a journey, and at some point something or someone comes along which gets us to move in a new direction.

Those who say that by going without knowing the destination, Abraham was showing his love for G-d, maybe right in their own way. I believe Abraham took what Abraham Joshua Heschel describes as a “leap of action”. This is perhaps the essence of what Judaism asks of us: not just to take a leap of faith, to believe in something just “because”, but rather to take a leap of action. To do something if you genuinely feel you should, even if you don’t initially understand 100% why.

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