Some of the people I love and admire most, are my family and friends who have converted to Judaism. I am in awe of the commitments they made and the immense responsibilities they took upon themselves. Furthermore, I am blown away by the courage it must have taken to separate from the ways and belief systems of the families they grew up with. The powerful sense of purpose, faith and individual strength they must have had, in order to forge a new pathway for themselves. Observing them is the closest I can come to relating to what we read about Abraham's journey.
This week's Parsha - “lech lecha” - sometimes translated as “Go to Yourself” - is the ultimate lesson on leadership and individuality. Abraham is a pioneer - he is about to channel into the world the way of monotheism; he is leaving everything he knows because of the even deeper seated soul-certainty that an intangible essence is the only thing that is Real. It sounds almost crazy. But it is said G-d called out to that generation and that Abraham was the only one who had the openness to hear him.
Of his own choice, Abraham is about to become the first Jew. How does he take that journey? How does he take on the weight of a pilgrimage that will create a seismic shift for generations till this day? How does he depart on every level from his current life in order to usher such a holy awareness into man’s psyche?
G-d gives him three prompts -
“Go you from your land,
from your birthplace
and from your father’s house...”
The torah is suggesting that to truly grow and pioneer we need to have freedom on three levels. We need to be able to lovingly view and separate when necessary, from the prevailing views of the time and culture we find ourselves in, from the norms of our society, and even from the ways of being we have inherited closer to home. This analysis and self excavation can require tremendous courage, but it has the power to elicit change for generations.
Pioneering doesn’t have to be as radical as belief in G-d or even choice of religion - it can be as simple as the words you choose when you speak to yourself, your approach to a political issue, your choice of career or how you educate your children. Leadership can be personal and intimate, but it can still have a momentous effect on the people around you.
How are you pioneering?
Shabbat Shalom. With love and Blessings,