Sedra of the week: Lech Lecha

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Sedra of the week: Lech Lecha

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

The Jewish journey starts with a man, a woman and the courage of their convictions.

Avraham and Sarah are born in an environment that is hostile to radical ideas, one where idolatry is sacred and monotheism is unheard of.

He is mercilessly persecuted for his beliefs, yet remarkably they are willing to dedicate themselves and even risk their lives based on the strength of their understanding that there must be an Infinite Creator.

Unwilling to stop there, they make it their life’s mission to wake humanity out of its slumber and offer an alternative, ethical monotheism based on mankind being able to have a relationship with the Infinite.

The challenges they face just make the necessity of the cause all the more palpable.

The 16th century mystic, the Arizal, explains that just as no two people are the same, so too no two people have the same role to contribute to humanity.

All the challenges that we experience in life serve as a guide and backdrop for our unique contribution to the world.

Just as Avraham experienced 10 tests in his life, so too do we experience our own tests. In fact the word for challenge, nisayon, is related to the words for “miracle” and “banner”.

It may take a miracle to pass life’s tests but when we do so, we are raising a banner of what we are capable of.

Avraham and Sara are supposed to serve as a guiding light and inspiration for all of us.

Rather than complain about their circumstances they rise above them to start a revolution that continues until today.

As Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook (d.1935) wrote: “The purely righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, but increase wisdom.”

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures and serves Finchley Federation Synagogue 

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