Food For the Soul
Go For (and To) Yourself
In the Parsha, Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27 ) G‑d speaks to Abram, commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” According to the Zohar, the words lech lecha, do not only mean “go for yourself,” but simultaneously mean “go to yourself.”
Writes Sara Esther Crispe in her article Pleased To Meet Me: “And how do we go to ourselves, discover who we truly are? We need to leave our land, our birthplace and our father’s home…This doesn’t mean that we need to physically move or go anywhere (though for some that may be part of the process); but spiritually and emotionally, we need to meet ourselves all over again…We need to stop worrying about what the world wants from us, and start looking within, to our soul, to know what we want from ourselves, what our Creator wants from us…We must go from those whom we were raised with, our school systems, our communities, our friends and extended family. We must not allow their influences to get in the way of learning who we are truly meant to be.”
“And then, hardest but just as essential, we must go from our father’s home. We must recognize that as much as we may want to live in the very path that we were raised…we must choose it for ourselves. We must take ownership of this direction. It is then, and only then, that the new land is shown to us—our potential, our possibilities, and the world that awaits us. It is only then that we can progress, for we cannot move forward until we truly know who we are. This is how we lech lecha, go from ourselves, back to ourselves.”
“And we do this as Ivrim, as Jews, willing to stand on “the other side,” from the rest of the world, as those who will pursue truth and righteousness, even when popular view may greatly differ. The more we break those idols in our own world and the world around us, the stronger we can become. This is what Abraham teaches us. This is what it means to be a Jew—to swim against the current, reveal our G‑dly soul and our unique missions in this world—when we go from ourselves to ourselves, to discover and reveal our true essence.”
Why 2 candles on Shabbat?
Why do we light two candles on Shabbat? Our sages tell us that it represents husband and wife and the desire to bring peace and tranquility into the home. Another explanation is based on the Talmudic teaching that on Shabbat we receive an additional soul, which imbues us with an extra sense of holiness and spirituality throughout the day. The additional candle corresponds to the second soul.
However, the basic reason why we light two candles for Shabbat is that they correspond to the two forms of the mitzvah of Shabbat. In Exodus we are told, “Remember (zachor) the day of Shabbat and make it holy.” This encompasses all of the positive commandments associated with sanctifying Shabbat. In Deuteronomy we are instructed, “Keep (shamor) the day of Shabbat and make it holy.” This encompasses all of the negative prohibitions associated with Shabbat. To represent our acceptance of both aspects of Shabbat observance, we light two candles.
Based on an article by Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin
Mind Over Matter
Work anxiety is a sign that you’ve invested too much into earning a living. It’s one thing to invest money and time, even skill and ingenuity. It’s another thing to invest your very essence and being. Your essence and being doesn’t do well working for a living. It doesn’t belong there. It belongs invested in the purpose of your work.
Stop and think: Why am I doing this? What is this money for? What is my real purpose, the reason my soul came into this world?
Find that purpose, and invest your heart, mind and soul into everything directly connected to it.
Yes, do your best at everything you do, but invest in those things at the core. Worry about them, and you’ll worry less about money.
By Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
A reward of faith
Of the Messianic redemption it is written: “As in the days of your going out from the land of Egypt, I will show them wondrous things” (Michah 7:15). This means that it will be analogous to the redemption from Egypt: just as Israel was redeemed from Egypt as a reward for their faith, so too by virtue of our faith Moshiach will redeem us. Indeed, the Midrash (Shocher Tov,ch. 40) states that Israel is worthy of redemption as a reward for the kivuy (hoping for, and awaiting, the redemption). By virtue of Israel’s firm trust that “My salvation is near to come” (Isaiah 56:1), we shall merit that G‑d shall redeem us with the complete and ultimate redemption, speedily, in our very own days.
From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
Don’t Sweat It
Every rabbi has an airport story. In fact, some rabbis tell so many incredible stories of providential encounters on airplanes and in airports that I sometimes wonder if it is physically possible for them to have traveled on as many airplanes as they have stories!
Why am I talking about airplanes? Because this is the week of the Torah reading of Lech Lecha, when our father Abraham was instructed by G‑d to leave his birthplace and journey to a foreign land that would, one day, be promised to his children. Ever since then, the Jews have been a nation of wanderers. Our ancestors’ travels shaped our future destiny. Their journeys became our journeys. And the geographical upheavals the Jewish people have been subjected to over the centuries are mirror images of the footsteps of our forebears. Anyway, here is an airplane story of my own.
Some years back, I was traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town to join then President Nelson Mandela at a Banquet honoring South Africa’s late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and also to deliver a few lectures there at various synagogues. They say “getting there is half the fun,” but on this occasion nothing could have been further from the truth. First there was a system malfunction on the aircraft that caused a 30-minute delay. Then there was a missing passenger who delayed takeoff for a further three hours. Eventually, we landed after 10:00 pm and I missed the synagogue lecture that I was scheduled to give at 8:00 pm that evening.
And why might you be interested in my story? Because I found it fascinating to watch the reactions of the different passengers on the plane while we were waiting impatiently to take off. Some people got very angry. They were screaming and shouting and giving the poor flight attendants a very hard time. Others simply sulked in silence.
I couldn’t help thinking what a lesson this was on the subject of Divine Providence and who really runs the world. I had given myself ample time to get to my 8:00 pm lecture punctually. But clearly, G‑d had other plans. So who actually is in control? The best laid plans of men don’t necessarily get us to our destinations on time — even if we get to the airport early.
I could have become angry myself. I was very upset. It was quite a disappointment to have missed my lecture. Such a thing had never happened to me before. But my conscience was clear. I had left more than enough time to make it. The fact that I did not was not in my hands. I mean, who runs the world? The answer is, the One Above. If, for some reason known only to Him, He wants me not to give the 8:00 o’clock lecture, then no amount of huffing and puffing on my part will make one bit of difference. While pondering on this philosophical perspective, I found myself becoming more relaxed and actually quite serene about the whole frustrating experience. Yes, we must do our part; we must give it our best shot. But beyond that, it’s G‑d’s department.
If we can develop this attitude — and, believe me, I also need to develop it further — we will all be better able to cope with the disappointments we so often face in life, and even with real tzorres we may sadly encounter. It’s all in His hands. If he decided the plane would be delayed then there must be a good reason.
So even if nothing amazing occurred, I became far more aware that G‑d, and not I, is the controller of this universe. I may still have no idea why this delay was part of His vast eternal plan, but I do know that there was a reason. I may never discover what that reason was, but that there was a reason I am convinced.
When we understand this, we will have learned the art of acceptance. When we learn acceptance, we lead calmer, more tranquil lives, without all the unnecessary anxiety we create in our own minds. And I must admit it is a conviction which has helped me through many disappointments in my own life, from the small stuff to the more serious.
May all your journeys be safe and successful and may you get to your destinations on time. And even if you don’t, don’t sweat. He is in charge.
By Rabbi Yossy Goldman