Friday, October 26, 2012

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

Our Torah portion this week (Bereishis [Genesis]12:1-17:27) begins with “Lech Lecho” (“Go for yourself” ) - G-d Al-mighty telling Abraham at the age of 75, “Go” ! And Abraham went. He picked up his bags and started a journey that will never end—the Jewish story.

By the time he was 75 years old, Abraham had quite a lot to show for himself. He was the first out-of-the-box kid who, at age of three (!), started questioning the dogma that his pagan community had been stuffing down his throat.

Not only was he open minded, he was the first person who actually stood up for his beliefs. He wasn't a "scholar in residence"; he was a believer on the road. He held up signs, gave people food, and once they had a stomach-full he gave them an ear full.

He and his wife were the instigators of outreach. They were the first shluchim (emissaries) of G‑d to teach every human being about G‑d and His ways. They built quite a following.

After smashing his father's idols, he was thrown into a fiery furnace. Could you imagine? His own dad handed him over to die! Miraculously he walked out alive. What a day…

He found happiness in his marriage to Sarah. But then the pain of childlessness entered the door, remaining there for a long time.

So now he's 75, you'd think that now is the time for him to start writing his autobiography, buy a fishing rod, sun glasses and bathing suit, and reminisce about the world that was. Why, he had quite a lot to show for himself, truly a movie-material life.

What did G‑d ask the "father of all religions" to do,  to celebrate 75? He asked him to move.

No, not to Florida. But to the land of Canaan—where a famine was in the making, and whose sophistication and morality were – to put it mildly – not "Abraham's style."

It was there that he took his revolution to a whole new level. It was there that he and G‑d made an eternal covenant One with another. It was there that at the age of 99 (!) he had a circumcision. It was there that he with his tiny army battled with the greatest kings of the time to save the life of his no-good’nik nephew Lot. And it was there that he has a son, Isaac, who would continue the revolution.

Quite a portfolio for a retiree! Look what a 75-year-old can do!

(Oh, and by the way, did you know at what age Moses became the leader of the Jewish people? 80!)

In summary: Think twice before considering retirement at 65 – the Jewish story commenced because a 75-year-old understood that life had barely just begun!

(Excerpts from Chabad.org   - from  Rabbi Levi Avtzon)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!