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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Walking Into The Wilderness

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Were you ever called upon to walk into the unknown; to step into the wilderness for something you believe in?

Were you ever asked to take a risk in order to benefit a much higher cause?

Were you ever asked to resist the culture of the crowd when your heart tells you that following them is the wrong thing to do?

Were you ever called upon to sacrifice something you love for something you love even more?

Abraham was told to go. Lech Lecho. ’Leave your land, leave your fathers home - just go!’ G-d didn’t tell Abraham where he would end up; He just said “Go!” “Don’t worry about the future, the ramifications, your livelihood or your family; trust Me, you have a greater purpose. Follow it and I will take care of everything.”

Abraham took the challenge and walked into the unsafe wilderness. As he took that step into uncertainty he created for his descendants of all generations, the strength to sacrifice, to stand up for what’s right and if need be, to pick up and go.

When Abraham stepped out of his safety zone into the wilderness, he gave strength to the Jewish people, even one thousand years later, who would leave Egypt and walk out into the unknown.

G-d always appreciated that strength.

“Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the LORD; I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you followed me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” (Yirmiyahu)

What is our Lech Lecho? Where are we being asked to go?

It seems to me that the wilderness we must be willing to walk into, is the wilderness of our minds. As humans we like to stay safe. We are very concerned about being accepted in society and most of us do not want to stand out. We enjoy the comfort of fitting in and blending with the masses.

Yet, integrity sometimes requires sacrifice; dreams sometimes require risks; being outstanding requires standing out.

To stand up and be a model for our families and our communities is to stand out. To think against the tide often entails leaving our safe place. What will people think? How will they judge me? How will this affect my popularity, my livelihood, my relationships or the quietude and acceptance I have come to enjoy?

In the Heavens we are not judged by our popularity or our livelihood - we are judged by our integrity and our moral strength.

In the Heavens there is one benchmark - Abraham, and his response to “Lech Lecho.

This Dvar Torah is dedicated by my dear Mechutan Mr. Fred Schor in honor of the birthdays of his two sons in law; Binyomin Beiser and Tzvi Hirsch Haber.

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