D’var Torah: Lech Lecha (Shoshi Jalfin)

It was for the love of the Hebrew language and Jewish texts that already at age 15, I decided to be a teacher. It was a special call, an inner voice telling me, “Lechi Lach – Go to yourself.” From that moment on, I followed the path leading to fulfill my dream, and after so many years, “Hineni, – Here I am,” still teaching with passion.

In parashat Lech Lecha, both Abram and Sarai hear a special call. Together they leave their country, their homeland and their family behind in Haran to go to a land they do not know because they feel, at that precise moment, that following that voice is what they have to do. Quoted in Pirkei Avot, Hilel says, “Im ein ani li, mi li… Ve Im lo achsav ei matai – If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?… And if not now when?” This is what I interpret that Abram and Sarai do upon leaving their comfort zone and when going toward the unknown. Sometimes too, we just hear that voice, the specific urgent call we must follow, knowing that although uncertain, it is a good one; a journey that is going to impact both our own life and the life of others. This, I believe, is what leadership is all about.

Recently, after many years of teaching, a new voice has called me forth. For a second year now, I have been involved in a Teacher Leadership Fellowship program at Brandeis University.  When I first heard about this program, I felt that this was my second Lechi Lach call. My initiative is to support the school vision of teaching Judaic Studies in depth, with purpose and joy. I can fulfill this mission by helping other teachers and myself perfect our instruction, by having discussions around what good teaching is, by deepening our knowledge and expertise, and by making the topics of what we teach more relevant to our students. While experiencing joy, students can understand the purpose of what we, the Jewish people, do and why we do it. 

Abram and Sarai who’s names in this parasha are changed to Abraham and Sarah, begin their own leadership journey and are promised to have as many children as the stars in the sky and the dust on earth so to carry on the legacy of their values and their belief in God to their offspring, Isaac and Rebecca; Jacob, Leah and Rachel. Like Rabbi Tarfon says, “Lo Alecha Hamelacha Ligmor…”. “It is not just up to you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” We must be role models to others to continue what we have started. So following Abraham and Sarah’s foot steps, may we too hear that call, our inner voice, and pass it on “Mi dor  le dor”, “From generation to generation”. In our Schechter community, whether we are parents or teachers, we are partners in teaching our children keep our Jewish values and traditions alive and by living them to the fullest.

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