These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

This Week’s Parsha: Parshat Lech-Lecha

Posted on October 23, 2015 by David Derin

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This Shabbat, we will be reading לך-לך פרשת (Parshat Lech-Lecha). In reading over the parsha, it did not take long at all for me to find something that I feel is incredibly applicable to all of our lives here at Pardes. The very first verse of this week’s reading speaks to the journey that each of us has undertaken this year:

“אראך אשר הארץ-אל אביך ומבית וממולדתך מארצך לך-לך אברם-אל ה׳ ויאמר”

“And G-d said to Avram: Go from your land, from your homeland, from the house of your father to the land that I will show you.”

Here, in our first real encounter with Avram, we are met with G-d’s command that he leave everything he knows, everything that is comfortable, and, based on his faith alone, journey to a land that was yet unknown to him. In so many ways, this is the very thing that all of us at Pardes have done. Before August, each one of us was probably in a comfortable place, a place of familiarity. And then the calling came; the call to do something different with our lives, the call to pick up and leave the place of familiarity that had (maybe) always been a source of comfort.

None of us truly knew what to expect when we got on the plane and began this journey. As we each began this adventure, we put faith in the plunge that we were taking. Much like Avram, we did not know what we were getting ourselves into. Much like Avram, we all put our faith and security into something much larger than ourselves. And as recent events in Israel have bitterly reminded us, putting our faith and our security in this place is not always an easy thing. All too often, especially lately, this harsh truth has been on the forefront of our minds. It is not always easy to maintain peace of mind, it is not always easy to remember why it is that we have left the place that we know, the place we were already comfortable. But, just as Avram maintained his faith in his mission, I urge everybody, even in difficult times such as these, to remember what it is that brought us all here. Now, more than ever, we need to find that unshakeable faith that Avram had when he packed up and left the land that he knew, when he left the place where he had grown-up.

And just as Avram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all of their possessions with him, it is important to bring something of our old lives with us on this journey upon which we have embarked. It is important, while placing our faith in the mission we have undertaken, to remain grounded in some ways in the life that we have chosen to leave behind. In order to know where we are and where it is that we are going, it is important to know where it is that we have come from. We must bring some of this life with us, otherwise we very easily lose ourselves. While the journey and placing faith in our mission are crucial, we must constantly remember how we arrived at this place in life.

I look forward to this journey upon which we are embarking together.

שבת שלום