My wife and I have a very special moment of introspection and soul searching when we approach this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha. This Parsha starts with G-d’s commandment to Abraham, "Leave your homeland, your family, your friends and go to an unknown place that I will show you." If you had said to me 30, 20, or even 10 years ago, at times when I was either a student or a family man in Jerusalem, Israel, that one day I would become a congregational rabbi in Annapolis, Maryland, I would have said to you, "Impossible!" If you had said to my wife 20 or even 10 years ago that she was going to move out of Israel, leaving her family and friends to be together with her husband in an unknown place, the United States, she would have said, "Impossible!" And here we are now, together in Annapolis, Maryland with Knesset Israel, our extended family.
Back in Jewish history, at the time of our forefathers, G-d asked Abraham to go out of his way in two different tasks or directions. One was the physical move. Abraham was 75 years old. Imagine asking a man of 75 years to leave his family, friends, homeland, and go to an unknown place. The rabbis tell us that besides the commandment to make a physical move, it was also a call for a change in Abraham’s state of mind. Lech Lecha, the rabbis tell us, means to leave your mindset, to put aside all the bad memories, all those individuals who aggravated you, all those negative experiences that happened in your lifetime and get yourself to a new chapter in your life. In order for Abraham to raise his spirituality and be connected to G-d, he needed to concentrate on doing the right thing. He needed to concentrate on going on in life and putting aside all those trials and tribulations that he had experienced. The special calling that my wife and I felt when we came to the United States and again when we moved to this community is a call for Lech Lecha. This was a calling to help everyone around us to be connected to our roots, our traditions, and our spirituality.
This calling applies to each and every one of us. The idea of LechLecha, is that we are called to feel connected to G-d, to look at life differently. We need to be willing to take on new challenges. We need to let go of the bad memories and negative experiences in our past that still hurt us, and go to a new chapter. We believe that G-d is in search of man and that man is not alone. In order for us to feel uplifted and connected to G-d, we need to do a little Lech Lecha with ourselves. We need to let go of pessimism and look forward to better times. When we feel that everything in life is going against us with our difficult situations and crises, we need to reach out and strengthen our relationship with G-d. We should never feel lonely and forsaken.
My wife and I came from large families and had many friends in Israel. We moved here because we knew that we were doing the right thing, that this was our calling, that this was Lech Lecha. Everyone who is here today should feel that G-d always leaves a door open for us, that we should put aside many of our unpleasant memories and feel part of the community. While major changes in life may be very difficult and sometimes very painful, we should understand that G-d is reaching out to us, telling us that it is a time for Lech Lecha, a time to be open-minded. We need to understand that changes can work out for our benefit. We may not see the advantages of a change right away, but G-d is always looking out for our welfare, happiness and success.
May we be blessed with peace of mind and a positive outlook to face our challenges, finding great meaning and fulfillment in our daily lives.