One of the things I learned during the past few years that I've lived in Sioux Falls and met people across South Dakota, is that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. No matter how much time goes by, the first impression always remains, for the good and for the better.
This made me think of the first impression G-d made on Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. When we look at the first instruction G-d gave him, we could have imagined it being something bearing great moral, spiritual or theological significance, perhaps something as consequential as the Ten Commandments.
Instead we find a simple instruction, "Lech Lecha" - "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you." What's more, is that even this seems to be lacking basic information like where to go and what this new place would be like.
Of everything, why would this be the first commandment, to the first Jew?
The Rebbe teaches that in these words in fact lies a foundational theme for Abraham, and by extension for every Jew. Our uniqueness is that even though we live in this physical world and seem constrained by the laws of nature and the norms of society, and even though we each have natural feelings and tendencies, we are each able to rise up and connect with G-d, who is infinite and unrestrained.
We got this strength and ability in that first instruction of "Lech Lecha - Go." With these simple words, G-d told Abraham, and through him all the Jews, that our mission is to rise above our natural limitations, connect with G-d who is infinite and unrestrained, and accomplish the impossible. In fact he was called Abraham Haivri because “the whole world was on one side and he was on the other.”
Practically, this means that although we are influenced by those around us, although we may face physical, emotional or psychological challenges, we have within us the strength and ability to persevere and rise above those distractions that impede us from living a harmonious life and fulfilling our purpose. We each inherited this special ability from our ancestor Abraham, and the instruction he received from G-d to "Go."
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Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.