Friday, October 11, 2013

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Lech L’cha, Finding One’s True Self

by Rachel Wheeler, exclusive to Mystical Paths


The first time Hashem is talking to Avraham he is instructing him :Lech lecha .. to go forth (go out) of his land, homeland and the House of his father.

We are told this was one of the 10 tests Avraham went through, in the same list as the test of Akedat Yitzhak (being told to sacrifice his son Isaac). From a point of view of 3000 years later this seems a bit of a stretch, what is the big deal, he made Aliyah (moved to Israel)... in a comfortable way with wealth and his wife and his followers.

Learning about millions of Jews (descendants of Avraham) through the last 2000 years that were exiled from places because of being “descendants” of Avraham, with cruelty and hatred from the rulers and the church; or because of wars or diseases. Getting to know people who survived the Holocaust and hearing first hand horror stories of Jews in Communist Russia, compared to all of this, Avraham’s journey doesn't seem like such a test. It seems his children and descendants went through the test much more than him. Even more so in todays’ world where we all relocate because of jobs, education for children, etc etc. With the notion of the global village it seems nobody stays in their place anymore…

So what is the fuss regarding Lech Lecha?

We need to look from the inner perspective, the inner meaning of “Lech Lecha” as the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained to us. It is going out of your will (land – in Hebrew is Eretz, will in Hebrew is Ratzon and they share the same root).

Going out of your home land = out of your habits, personality traits, limiting thoughts and paradigms.

Going out of your father house = out of your intelligence, when your knowledge and intelligence becoming a limiting factor.

So far it sounds like 3000 years old coaching course…

But there is a continuation to the instruction, which makes the whole difference, go out “TO THE LAND I WILL SHOW YOU”.

Land in the chassidus interpretation is one’s will as mentioned before; i.e. to the land I will show you; to your true will, to your true essence.

Going out of your thoughts and paradigms, habits, will, fantasies – get out of all of these. Get to your true essence.

Avraham Avino (Abraham our father) gave us a spiritual genetic inheritance. This was not only his journey  this is our journey as descendants of Avraham.

We see many young and not so young American Jews and Israelis travel to unknown places, getting familiarized with unknown cultures, willing to taste, try take part of all kinds of rituals, they feel so global and far away from their “limiting Jewishness”.

It seems this “global” journey is so easy to go through, yet there is another journey. One that seems is not so easy and is still a true challenging test to all of us Jews. It is the test to follow the instruction that was given to Avraham and actually to all of us thru the generations his “descendants “ and it is the test of getting out of one's’ habits and limitations to one’s true essence, the TRUE essence of our Neshama (soul).

When I look back at my life it seems that going trough the “Road Less Traveled” as we were inspired in the 70’s and 80’s …was easier than going through the road that resonates with our Jewish soul.

It is still easier for so many Jews to indulge in discovering the secrets and mystery of Eastern religions and their philosophy, Shamanism and so on and on.. there is some sort of seductive attraction towards all of those by the searching Jewish souls. But to study my own roots seemed so archaic, so not the fad.. at least that is what it seemed to me.

When I started to observe Miztvot some of my intellectual friends and acquaintances kind of mumbled “it does not fit you..” it would have looked better to some of them if I would have left to the Himalaya to search for myself..

On the first Shabbat I observed I had a flashback; I saw as in a movie all the opportunities I had to tap into the beauty and depth and true essence of my soul that is connected to my Jewish spiritual genes.

The Shabbat candles my mother lit mesmerized me as a little girl. A drawing of a Jewish woman lighting the Shabbat candles in my text book of first grade that I used to glance at for hours. The first Kabbalas Shabbat I attended, at the age of 14 and hearing “Shalom Aleyichem” feeling so much “at home” and knowing that I want to stay with “this” forever but I ignored these feelings and went on with my life..

When at the age of 23 while living in Brookline Massachusetts and watching the Jews going to pray on Shabbat morning, I remember feeling so uncomfortable and walking on the other side of the road. The time I was lost in a journey in a “road less traveled” in the western part of America not realizing it was Rosh Hashana and only by meeting Jews on their way to Shul did I feel a big hole in my heart and just wanted to throw away everything and join them. Once again, I just ignored it.

Years later I was leading a communication workshop on Friday early evening in Israel with more than 100 people in the room. The workshop was in high spirits, transformational, amazing and inspiring. However, I did not understand why my neshama is crying, only at the break when I heard the tune of Lecha Dodi of Kabbalat Shabbat I decided to follow the tune and found myself in a synagogue on the first floor of the same building that the workshop was being held in.

I got inside, took a seat at the end of the room and found myself (seemingly without a reason) just crying and crying and crying. I knew my Neshama was crying. This time I admitted it, but I could not go with it. I went back to the workshop and back to my life and habits.

All of this I saw as in a movie on the first Shabbat that I started to observe several years later. It was almost as an out of the body experience and I cried. I cried because of realizing that all the years I did not listen to my Neshama. I cried because I felt the pain when the Neshama was begging but I did not relate to it and even more so I was sad realizing that at those times in the past I was not able to listen.

While crying I looked around at the Shabbat setting and spirit in my single woman apartment in Tel Aviv, took a deep breath and whispered to myself  “this is my journey this is my “Lech Lecha”. This is the instruction Hashem gave to AVRAHAM’s descendants. It is not simple, and many times it is concealed.

I was born on Parashat Lech Lecha, it is so clear my journey could not have been different. I had to go thru the struggle of being in touch with my true Jewish essence so I can support others in their journey (as human beings, as Jews , as women, in relationship etc..) , that is so challenging in our times. But we are promised that if we are given an instruction we are given the strength to to thru and fulfill it.

On my birthday (the Lubavitcher Rabbi taught us that on the birthday a person’s luck is enhanced and he/she can bless others) I want to bless all of us to go through our personal “Lech Lecha” to our true essence which Beezrat Hashem (with the help of G-d) will support the whole world to get to their true essence.

Shabbat Shalom.

copyright & by Rachel Wheeler – Lecturer, Writer, Consultant and Workshop Facilitator in the field of relationship and communication. Working with thousands of people both in the private and corporate sectors, including seminaries and rabbinical organizations. She lives with her husband and son in the Golan Heights, ISRAEL.  She can be contacted here.


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