Community Rabbi Corner, Nov. 8, 2019

Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg
Temple B’nai Abraham
Livingston, NJ
Parashat Lech L’cha
There are times in our lives where we are called by some demand to leave the familiar and take a risk. We get accustomed to certain comforts and to the warmth of that which we know, and yet, there are times where we know that there’s something else out there that we must pursue, and that the time has come to take that leap of faith
 
In parashat Lech L’cha, Avram does just this. Seemingly out of the blue, God addresses Avram and states, 
 
(לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל-הארץ אשר אראך (בראשית יב:א).
 
Go forth, from the land of your birth, and from your ancestral house, to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1).
 
This command would be difficult for any of us. 18 century Moroccan commentator Ḥayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar (known as Or haḤayyim) notes the pain and difficulty of leaving these places; the first, the place of his birth, forced Avram to act against the pull of nostalgia, and the second and more painful act of leaving his father’s house required his unwavering belief that this risk of leaving those who raised him was the right and necessary choice. 
 
With no information in B’reishit about Avram’s younger days, the rabbis, needing to understand how Avram could have come to this point, go back and create a narrative of Avram’s learning of God’s existence. Or haḤayyim teaches that from the age of five, Avram had figured out in his kishkes and without any outside counsel that there must be a single Creator, and he spent his life from that point seeking God out. Because of this, when the call finally came, Avram was ready to jump.
 
I see this story play out every day. It happens for my children, as their curiosity leads them to journey into the unknown and forge their own paths in the world. It happens for us, as we raise our children while pursuing careers, drives, and ambitions, and while trying to leave this world a better place than we found it. Our sacred work as parents, as Jews, and as human beings, is to continually leave the comfort of what is, and strive for that which deep down, we know ought to be. 
 
May we all be blessed with Avram’s strength and courage to follow that call whenever it may come.
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