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October 19, 2018

10/19/2018 09:44:45 AM


Daniella Buchstaber, Community Shlicha

Did you ever feel an urge to make a life changing decision? I’m talking about actually taking a chance and following your heart? Would you still have the courage to make that decision without knowing or the outcome, because you knew deep down it was the right thing to do?

In Lech Lecha, Abram experienced his calling when God told him לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ- “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.” For Abram, this moment was so powerful and meaningful that he left Haran for Canaan, taking everything with him: his wife, his brother’s son, his entire property. Abram did not know where he was going, what he would encounter when he got there, or what the consequences of his actions would be, but he had conviction. The only thing he had was a strong belief in his decision because he trusted God to navigate and illuminate the path ahead.

God called and Abram answered. He chose to follow this calling and leave his comfort zone. Now when I say comfort zone, I mean Abram had the life. He was a wealthy man with a lot of sheep and goats; he was well respected within his family and his community. Imagine experiencing a moment of clarity in which you hear your true calling and then realizing it meant leaving a life you spent the last 75 years building.

This act is an act we can learn from. Abram’s faith in God was enough to trigger him into action. But what about us? You know, regular people with a regular connection to God. Most of us probably feel we have one sided conversations with God, without being able to hear a call back to us.

It is very possible that many people who are sitting in this room right now had a moment in which they felt a calling. Whether it’s something we really love and want to do, or a dream that we’ve had since we were children. A calling is stronger than just an aspiration. A calling is waking up in the morning knowing in your heart and in your gut that you MUST act.

Many Jewish philosophers tell us that we have a piece of God in us. That means that we don’t really have to have God reveal to us and encourage us to take action, as we already have this power inside of us.  True, most of us probably won’t hear the voice of God telling us to get up and go, but we must remember that the urge inside of us to pursue something because we know in our hearts it is the right thing to do, is GOD calling and it is up to us to ACT.

Yes, I know it is hard to leave your comfort zone. It’s comforting! It’s our warm cozy bed on a Monday morning, but you get out of bed anyway because you must. I believe in challenging myself to leave my comfort zone over and over again. As a perfect example, two months ago I got on a plane and left my home knowing I wouldn’t see it for a whole year, without really knowing what’s in store for me when I landed.  The fact that I’m standing here in front of you today, talking to you about Parasht Hashavua is a another one, as I do not usually discuss texts from the Torah, in English, let alone in public.

In my life, I have always tried to challenge myself and follow my internal calling, which is serving Israel and the Jewish people. This is a calling I felt since I was a teenager. I remember one day I read on the news that a group of Israeli teenagers went on a delegation to the University of Cape Town in order to protest against Israel’s policy, and I was overwhelmed by a very strong feeling, thinking this is not something you should do! I mean, Israel is not perfect - but why not try to influence and change from the inside? Why go to South Africa and harm Israel’s image that is already fragile? Looking back at that moment in time, I realize that the strong feeling I felt was my calling. It wasn’t anything like the divine calling that Abram had received, rather a strong burning in my heart and in my gut, which made me want to ACT. Immediately I started an advocacy project for teenagers and after a year I was able to form a delegation that went to Germany and spoke to over 200 peers about Israel and its complexity. That was the beginning of my journey serving my country and as you can see I am standing here in front of you today, serving as a bridge between Delaware and Israel. And although the calling was something I was sure of almost immediately, I have to say that many times I have acted out of that calling without knowing what’s in store, and in those times I always discovered and learned new and amazing things.

I once heard someone say that a calling is not something that just happened for no reason. There is a reason for why we feel what we feel. And if we feel a certain calling, we must follow it because it might be the reason why we were born into this world. This puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders but it is an opportunity to be brave and heed God’s calling.

So what is it? What is your drive? What is that one thing that when you think about it, you feel compelled to action? And are you, in this moment of time, really perusing your calling or is there something holding you back? These are questions I ask myself on a daily basis almost, and I encourage you to ask yourself those questions as well.

There is a lot we can learn from Abram’s decision at Parahshat Lech Lecha about courage, taking risks and believing in yourself.  Today I want you to motivate and challenge you to follow Abram’s example and answer your calling because when you do, the fear of the unknown will melt away and you’ll be free to fulfill the purpose you were put on this earth to do.

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