Friday, October 11, 2013

Lech Lecha and Then?

The view from here. 

This week's Torah portion (aka parshah) is the classic trope for converts the world over: Lech Lecha.

At the ripe age of 75 years old, Avram (that's his name before he becomes Avraham) is commanded by G-d to leave home, to go forth from your land and your father's house, from everything you've ever known, to a land that will be revealed. Avram puts the ultimate trust in HaShem to guide him, but not without plenty of bumps and "hold on a second" moments along the way.

The promise, HaShem says, is that he will multiply Avram and bless him and his progeny and curse those who curse Avram and his kin.

The reason this parshah is so outstanding and emotional for converts is because Avram is, for all intents and purposes, the first willing convert. He hears G-d's calling and says, "Sure, let's do this" willingly and wholeheartedly while holding fast to his nature to battle with G-d over the things that he doesn't understand or agree with (just think about Sodom and Gemorah in Bereshit 18).

For me, this portion has always held a near and dear place, because coming from a place where I didn't know or grow up with any Jews, the "calling" (if you can even call it that) came as much from within as from without and the moment I felt it, life changed indescribably forever.

At this point in my life, where I think of myself so much less as a convert and more as just another Jew trying to find the right path and living how HaShem wants and needs me to, how do I relate to Lech Lecha?

Well, I'm mere days away from my one-year anniversary of aliyah (moving to Israel). Officially, the anniversary is October 16, I can't think of a more appropriate parshah.

Like Avram, I felt a calling (for years, folks, since at least 2008) to make Israel my home. I was being called to this land that was a mystery to me, even after frequent visits. The promise of finding a mate and starting a proper family stood waiting for me. So I packed up, left the land of my father, and arrived to the place that HaShem seemed to need me.

What happened? I was mated and started "multiplying" almost instantly. The amount of people I know who moved to Israel and got pregnant after some time of trying is equally astounding. There is something to be said to HaShem's promise to Avraham Avinu (our father), which continues to benefit the Jewish people thousands of years later.

Avram might have been the first to leave his comfort, his family, and start anew at the will of G-d, but modern aliyah is a true nod in the direction of the trope of Avram. It's hard, it's complicated, and we all end up screaming and crying in HaShem's general direction because of the roller coaster of emotions, finances, and reality that Israel really does do everything in her power to chew us up and spit us out. But we also learn to appreciate and experience the sense of community and family, the angels in our midst who would bend over backwards to make us feel at home, loved, cared for, and wanted.

Aliyah is not for everyone, but then again, not everyone can be an Avram, either.

So how do you bring Lech Lecha into your every day life? How do you go forth into the great unknown -- be it personally, emotionally, at work or at home? 

Shabbat Shalom everyone!