Abraham’s epic journey from Ur to Canaan is the start of the Jewish religion. It is not explicitly stated in the Torah when and how Abraham came to the conclusion that there is only one God (the vivid midrashim fill in the blanks), but that conclusion is implied by his willingness to go on the journey that God commanded.
What lesson are we to take from knowing that Judaism starts off with a Journey? Couldn’t it just as well have started with Abraham sitting outside his tent meditating? The Hebrew expression Meshane Makom, Meshana Mazal, from the Talmud, comes to mind. The Talmud In tractate Rosh Hashanah teaches that one of the ways of changing our luck/fortunes is to change our makom (place).
I don’t pretend to understand how mazal/luck works but I think we can all appreciate that sometimes we get stuck in a rut. It could be when trying to solve a problem, understand something we are studying, etc. Sometimes changing our makom, our location shakes us up enough to break out of our rut.
Like Abraham, our forefather, we need to take a journey every so often when we get stuck, to shift our energy and focus. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an epic journey, sometimes it could even rearranging the furniture.
Please join us for a virtual celebration on December 6th at 4 PM as we honor Dan Glassman as CBJ's Man of the Year. Dan was chosen for this honor due to his exceptional service to CBJ. With his experience, he had made it possible for CBJ to have weekly and High Holiday virtual services when we needed it the most. Among his numerous accomplishments, he has also updated the sound system in the sanctuary.
Zoom Link and Access codes will be available soon.
Our parsha includes many well-known stories, tales that generations have, and continue to pour over: Creation and rest, learning and naming, first love and loss of trust, expulsion from paradise and the first murder.
After Cain killed his brother Able, God called out to Cain, “Ei Hevel achikha, Where is Hevel/Abel your brother” (Gen 4:9)? Cain’s cold response “Hashomer achi anochi, Am I my brother’s keeper”? haunts us still to this day. Still smarting, Cain’s follow up of complaining about the punishment/consequences from God “Gadol avoni m’nisa/My punishment is too great to bear” is the epitome of chutzpah. Cain’s lack of awareness and responsibility is astounding.
As I watch the (lack of) covid precaution debacle, and it’s deadly consequences, between the governments (this scene is playing out in several countries and not just in NYC) and parts of the Jewish community the question/expression Hashomer achi anochi? keeps coming to my mind. Watching some shouting “anti-Semitism” at the slightest criticism and calling health officials “Nazis” reminds me of how easily we can pray and do ritual by rote with it not having the slightest impact on our behaviour.
I wonder what my responsibility is and what I can actually do to help. I am reminded that trying to persuade/convince/argue others to change is mostly a futile exercise. Ultimately being a good role model, and publishing such reflections on social media, is the best I can do. I find that arguing with people about Covid precaution, is about as helpful as arguing about politics these days. It doesn't seem to end well for anybody. ... See MoreSee Less