Hangover or Opportunity?

Wednesday, 9 November, 2016 - 8:20 pm

The election cycle is over. Many of us feel disappointed (or worse) with the results. Many of us felt disappointed with the candidates. Still, it’s over, so now what?

How do we get ourselves into the right mindset? How do we make sure that we are now proceeding in the right direction? What can we use as our inspiration or motivation?

This week’s Torah portion begins with G-d’s instruction to Avraham: “Lech Lecha”- Leave your home, your land, and your family. In other words, G-d is telling Avraham and his wife Sarah to leave their comfort zone. Their mission is to be accomplished somewhere else. The effect they will have on the world, the legacy they are to create, will happen somewhere out of their once peaceful environs.

Avraham and Sarah follow G-d’s command and leave Haran to begin their travels to Canaan, only to find that their new home is suffering from famine. Their new residence, the new sanctuary of their love, is also taken from them, so they must continue moving. They arrive in Egypt and encounter more trouble. Finally, they travel back to Canaan and begin to build a new home.

During all these travels, Avraham and Sarah did not complain, nor did they drown their sorrows in scotch (though, had they gotten their hands on some, they may have). They saw it as an opportunity to make connections with people, all the while teaching every person they met about bringing G-dliness into the world through acts of goodness and kindness.

Avraham and Sarah didn't just preach; they practiced as well.  We see this during their numerous struggles on their journey, where we can find the first mention of the idea of tithing- giving 10% of their earnings to a cause they believed in.  They also endangered their lives twice, once, to make a positive and G-dly connection with the pharaoh in Egypt, and a second time to rescue POWs from being sold into slavery.

After all this struggle, G-d made an everlasting covenant, that the children of this amazing couple- the fruits of their arduous labor- will forever be known and that their message of kindness and goodness will forever be valued.

We, too, have been forced from our “sanctuaries”, our comfort zones. The world today does not look like it did yesterday. But we can learn from Avraham and Sarah, and we can also use this moment when we are looking for comfort, even from strangers, to make connections. Not just by giving out free hugs, though that is a wonderful idea, but to teach the people we meet, the new friends we connect with, to add in their acts of goodness and kindness.

We shouldn’t just teach; we should be the shining example of it. Give charity to organizations that promote kindness and education. Fight for the rights of the underprivileged, and make sure to remind our leaders that kindness and justice must prevail.

G-d made a covenant with us that our efforts will not be in vain. Just like our ancestors, that power couple, the message we relay will forever be valued.

All we need is a little bit of light to chase away a lot of darkness! -Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
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