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118http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/10/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---10_26_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 10_26_2012
10/25/2012 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
October 26, 2012

 

                Leave everything behind and go find your destiny! It sounds like the Wild West, but it’s really a bit of Torah. In this week’s Torah portion, Lekh-Lekha, God commands Abram (Abraham) to leave everything behind and go to a place that God will show him. A curious part of the verse is found in the fact that God never told Abraham where he was going, at least not right away. The rabbis were curious about this part of the verse, too. They were quick to erase any suggestion that God was indifferent to Abraham’s feelings. They believed without question in God’s benevolence.

                The rabbis explained God’s silence on Abraham’s destination in two ways. First, the rabbis taught that God wanted the place to be more beloved in Abraham’s eyes. It’s not difficult to understand the motivation. Delayed gratification makes us feel more appreciative of the goal when we reach it, because we earned it. More often, children demonstrate needs for immediate gratification. Abraham, after all, was the first Jew, and was portrayed as a leader and a man in whose name other nations of the world would be blessed. Patience was a sign of his maturity.

                Abraham’s example can lead us to prove our own maturity through greater patience about what the future can hold. When everything is great, it’s hard to believe that anything could change. But, a mature person knows that life cannot always be lived at a peak level; life has a tendency to rise and fall. Thankfully, the cycle continues and with personal effort, patience and maturity, we learn to live with what is and to build what ought to be.

                Second, the rabbis taught that each step Abraham took in the direction God sent him was an opportunity for God to bless him. I love that lesson. It demonstrates that Abraham had a choice with each step. If he chose wisely and continued in the direction God intended him to go, then God would be there to meet him and honor him.

                In our life, too, we have within our power to choose which way to go. Like Abraham, if we take our steps thoughtfully we’re likely to make our way down a good path in our life. Even if we make a wrong turn we usually have the privilege to change direction and start out again. There in those places, where “wisdom” meets the road, we may also find God’s loving presence to reassure us and to honor us.

                We know, “Life is hard!” Abraham knew it. He took the first daring steps into a world of faith in one God. The rest is history. But, it shouldn’t be only history; it should also be an on-going story that you and I continue to write. Our faith in God’s way for us can help us find the patience and the courage to take solid and important steps. Recently, I led a baby naming and included the blessing that God should set the baby on a straight path in life. What does a straight path in life look like? It’s set with wisdom (sechel), knowledge, understanding, blessing, life, and peace. What’s more, it includes the privilege of the parents to raise their child to maturity, to embrace and cherish the heritage of our people, even to accompany their child to the chuppah (the wedding canopy), and to live a life of good deeds. And, how does it happen? Patiently and thoughtfully. One faithful step at a time.

                As Shabbat begins, consider the steps you have taken in your life. Are you patient with yourself and others along the way? Are you heading in the right direction? Is God able to honor you there? And, if not, then what new steps can you take that are worthy of God’s blessing.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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