Blog Vayera Cheshvan 18 5779 בלוג וַיֵּרָא, י”ח חשון תשע”ט
In this Jewish community we open our arms to anyone from outside who wants to join us knowing that Avraham Avinu, our father Abraham came from the Gentile world himself; he was not born an Israelite. While he was still a part of the nations, he heard the voice of the Creator who the Torah says, “appeared’ to Abram. The word “appears” or “sees” is repeated very often in the Scriptures. When we say, “oh I see”, it means that we understand. There are people who have sight, yet they are blind and there are those who are blind, yet they have sight. Our children “see” us; they watch what we do. If we want to be a good example, we need to walk a straight and narrow path and that is not always easy.
Abraham was not a perfect man, but he was a passionate man with a desire to obey and to follow the Creator who appeared to him. He “saw” Him in a special way, one that was not physical which allowed him to appreciate and understand what he had previously not been able to see. Many of us play a role like professional actors. We wear masks in front of others instead of showing who we really are.
Have you ever had a déjà vu where you wonder if you have been there before? I recently asked the people on our on-line Torah class, “how do you know that you are hearing the voice of the Creator, that He is speaking to you?” Some spoke about how they can sense His presence, others feel that He is moving them to do certain things, or that suddenly they had a revelation after which His Word made sense to them. They can “see it”
Our blindness comes from wearing “blinders”. We walk with “blinders” on in our daily lives, more comfortable believing what others tell us and following the crowd instead of standing out as a singular beacon of light to those around us.
Today we are celebrating a Bar Mitzvah of a young man who has grown up with us since he was a little boy. I hope that he sees me as a good example even when I misbehave. It is my prayer that when he sees something wrong in me that he would understand that the rabbi is also human with faults. In that way, he can improve in the same way that I as an older man can also improve. In the larger Jewish community many young men leave the synagogues right after their Bar Mitzvah seeing it more as a time to party and to receive gifts. Sadly, they hang up their tallit and rarely return. They do not understand that they have taken a great step in becoming an adult and have the opportunity to set an example to others by truly being a “son of the Commandment”.
We adults have a great challenge. We may be very “enlightening” outside our homes, putting on a self-righteous act to everyone else but then as soon as we get home, we change. Then we complain when our children don’t listen to us or we wonder why they have left their parents’ congregations. What example have we been giving them at home? Our children smell hypocrisy, they sense from a very young age what is going on in the home. It is not about being perfect since no one is perfect, but the secret lies in acknowledging our humanity as Abraham did. He never tried to look perfect. Right after he was called “righteous” by the Creator, he immediately failed. Why would the Creator give us this as an example? We question why he didn’t fight for his son Ishmael when Sarah wanted him and Hagar thrown out into the desert? We question why he didn’t intercede for Isaac his beloved son when he was told to take him and kill him. Yet he interceded for the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah. A similar thing happened to me. I was asked to testify about a person’s character and I did so willingly. This person was not close to me at all. When I was asked to do the same thing for someone in my own family, I had trouble doing it. It is very easy to speak for someone who isn’t close to us but very difficult to stand up for our own family. We don’t like to look as if we are self-serving. I learned a great lesson through Abraham. Many of us have that problem but we need to learn from this man so that we can grow and improve.
Has the Creator spoken to you? How does He speak to us? He speaks to us through the Scriptures, the Torah, the situations that we face, through people, and through our circumstances that we are living. When I was in the hospital several years ago, I had nowhere to look but up as I lay there in the bed. The Creator spoke to me loud and clear in the way that the Creator spoke to Abraham – in his soul. He was able to see into the spiritual realm, to see his reality and the reality of the people in his life. We each need such an experience. Have you had a very special experience with the Creator that has turned your life around? Allow the Bore Olam to speak to you and you will see how your life will change.