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13 Heshvan 5764
Shabbat Shalom. Imagine yourself sitting alone on your couch watching TV and eating your favorite snack food. You have a family, many friends and a successful job. Suddenly, as Bugs Bunny evades Elmer Fudd yet again, you hear a voice, a powerful commanding voice:
Lekh lekha – Go into yourself, out of your country and from your house and go into the country that I will show you, you will be a great nation, you will be blessed and you will be a blessing.
Would you do it? Would you make the choice that would dictate the future of countless individuals? To tell you the truth, I don’t think I would. I wouldn’t believe it was God; I would think I was crazy and get myself a good therapist A.S.A.P. Even if I did believe that it was God, would I willingly go to a country that I’d never heard of, at the command of a God that was supposed to be the only God, after a life of paganism, a life where there are gods for the sun and moon, as well as for food and wealth? To do that would be like complying with a voice commanding you to start praying to idols.
Abraham was above all that, though. He not only had the faith to believe that God was the one true God, but he also followed Him into the unknown, deciding the fate of all Jews, Christians and Muslims. What would you have to overcome mentally to leave everything behind? The answer is in the first two words of what God said, “Lekh Lekha – Go into yourself.”
There is a Midrash that may shed light as to how Abraham saw the situation and departed for Canaan at God’s request. The Midrash says, and I quote,
This may be compared to a man who was traveling from place to place when he saw a building in flames. “Is it possible that the building lacks a person to look after it?” he wondered. The owner of the building looked out and said, “I am the owner of the building.” This is as Abraham our father said, “Is it conceivable that the world is without a guide?” The Holy One, blessed be He, looked out and said to him, “I am the guide, Sovereign of the Universe.”
This gives insight as to how Abraham comes to fully accept and understand the awesome concept that is a one true God. He saw the world, all its amazing people and wonders, and said, “How could all this be without a guide? Is it possible that the world is all alone with only stone statues to guide us?” It is this, I believe, looking inside of himself and questioning what he had been taught from his birth, which led Abraham to see the truth in God’s words.
Abraham’s journey was a journey into himself and away from home. This is something I can relate to, for my journey in life will take me out of my parents’ house and off into a world of unknown things. My journey is already taking me into unknown places — I’ve just started middle school and already my life is exciting with the thrill of new things.
We all have some idols to break as did Abraham, things that we are overly attached to. For some it is clothing, for others cars, and the list keeps going: cigarettes, money, alcohol, food. I have some idols to break, the TV for one thing. I am the definition of the word couch potato and computer geek, because I love pretty much everything electronic. It has and will be hard, but slowly and surely I am cutting back on my electronics time. It is not just physical idols either. There are idols of violence, cruelty, selfishness and hate. In many ways, hate most of all. There is so much hate in this world it has gotten to a point where it is reasonless — things like racism, and the fights in the Middle East. These are all idols of hate. Together we can break some idols.
I have had help preparing for this day. My parents have always stood by me. My Dad has been a well of strength and Judaic wisdom, my Mom a source of calm and organization. Thank you both. I also want to thank my teachers Andy Schultz, Dr. Kempton, Rabbi Jon-Jay and Ben Zlotoff, and my many Hebrew School teachers. And all my friends. And I would like to thank Daniel, my little brother, for he has changed the last four years of my life as no one else could. I would also like to thank my friends and relatives who have traveled far to be with me here today. Thank you everyone.
Like Abraham, I do not fear what the future has in store for me, for along with all of you, I know there will be more people to help me on my journey.