"The Lord said to Abram, "Go forth, from your native land, from your birthplace, from your father's house, to the land that I will show you."
The rabbis teach that leaving his "father's house" is one of the first great tests that Abraham received--a challenge of considerable scale and proportion because it asked him to move into both real and previously unimagined territory "alone."
This state of existential aloneness, of a willingness to distinguish oneself from one's family, from one's most intimate place of upbringing, is an elemental part of the developmental process for every human being. We all "grow up" and "leave home."
What is particularly fascinating in the case of the rabbis applying this basic psychological insight to the spiritual journey is that while on one hand the Jewish tradition relies upon practices continued from one generation to the next, there is the implied understanding that we are also called upon to journey beyond the land, birthplace, and parental home of our tradition and "go the land that I will show you."
God calls us in our own unique ways, each generation, continuing and giving new life to a tradition in every age. The delicate balance for every individual and by inference, every community, is striking a healthy balance between holding on to past practice while also charting new territory and new perspectives on a timeless relationship with the Source of Life.
Our synagogue has grown by more than 250 families in the last three years, joining the ranks of a stable and committed membership of the more than 500 families who comprised CBE prior to this latest growth spurt. Without a doubt, we are daily charting new territory, while simultaneously drawing water from wells that have nourished our community for two and even three generations. It is a great case study in how cultures meld and inform one another, while joining hands in the sacred work of Torah, Spirituality, and Deeds of Lovingkindness.
It is, without a doubt, one of the characteristics of my work that makes me very grateful for the privilege of work each day.