Thursday, October 10, 2013

G-d Knows You're Insecure, and It's Cool

By: Shayna Chana Hulkower

Lech Lecha is one of my favorite Torah portions. There are so many geshmak (Yiddish for enjoyable) things we can talk about that are meaningful to our everyday lives, but I will settle for two short ideas.

We learn from Avraham this week that it's a Jew's natural disposition to be slightly neurotic. Let me explain: G-d has to reassure Avraham twice that he will have kids. First He says that He will have so many offspring they won't be able to be counted (13:14). But Avram (before he becomes Avraham, lehavdil, it's seems sort of like before a super hero gets his powers and their alternate identity), is still insecure and doesn't believe he's really going to have kids. I don't blame him, he's almost 100 years old at this point. We get stuck in ruts, to the extent that even when the Creator of the Universe tells you it's going to end, it can be hard to break a mind set. G-d has to literally say to Avram 'Al tireh Avram' (15:1) - 'Don't be afraid'. If you will allow me the poetic license, He's saying, 'Chill, it'll be cool, promise.' Everyone needs extra reassurance now and then. If G-d can reassure Avram and not be snarky, then we certainly have the potential to be a little nicer to each other when a friend, family member, or coworker is freaking out over something we think is trivial. Know that you can be Godly just by being patient and nice. You don't get stressed out, they get the reassurance they need, everyone wins.

The second idea was told to me by my brother, in the name of Rabbi Wolf of Aish HaTorah. I was complaining to him a while back about someone that I had to deal with on a regular basis and just frustrated the heck out of me. I wanted so much to let go of my feelings of dislike towards her, but she was just this magic combination of impatient, flighty, and insecure, and I could tell I wasn't the only one not amused by her behavior. It was so hard to get anything done with her, and often it created more work for me. However, I wanted nothing more than to put my feelings aside and learn to like her. It was quite the challenge.

As I was explaining (complaining) to my brother my conflicted feelings, and he stopped me in mid-sentence to get my Chumash. He fervently flipped through the pages until he found the passage he was looking for (it was quite cinematic). He pointed me to the part in the text where Avraham and Lot separate (13:9) and Avraham says: 'Please separate from me; if you go left, I will go right, and if you go right I will go left.' Avraham was the first guy to break into kiruv - trying to turn people on to monotheism and generally being decent human beings, so you know he had a ton of patience. But no matter what he tried, Lot still wasn't getting it. It was probably made all the more frustrating by the fact that they were related. So finally, he gave up. He said you go one way, I'll go another, and we don't have to be aggravated by each other anymore. My brother reassured me (how Godly of him!) that we don't have to get along with everyone. If Avraham Aveinu can get to the point where he says, 'I tried my best to make it work, we'll both be happier if we just move on,' then kal vchomer - all the more so for the rest of us. Move on (and away) from the person as best you can. Sometimes the square peg isn't going to fit in the round hole, and that's ok.

Shabbat shalom!