Sedra of the week: Lech Lecha

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Sedra of the week: Lech Lecha

Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

I grew up hearing about my father’s early life in Kiev and aliyah to Israel in the 1970s. After being granted permission against all odds while studying at Leningrad University, my father left for Israel. He would never again see most of the family he left behind. What is fascinating is that he was prepared to risk so much to live in a country about which he knew so little. He only knew where it was and that it was home.

Upon arrival in Haifa, he was given a small room in an absorption centre where he settled in with his few belongings. After returning from a day trip to Jerusalem, he found his room was broken into and the few belongings he had, including family pictures, were stolen. This completely shocked him! How can a Jew steal from another Jew in a Jewish country?

The reality of modern Israel made my father proud and simultaneously shocked and disappointed. Although he had arrived home, it wasn’t what he imagined it should be. The gap between dream and reality is not unique to my father’s experience. It seems that part of aliyah, whether contemporary or historical, are the challenges and disappointments that often follow. Perhaps this was the experience of Abraham, the founding father of our nation and the very first oleh (Jewish immigrant) in history.

Abraham travels to the land of Israel with a blessing from God to protect him and make him “a great nation”. But, six verses later, “There was a famine in the land, and Abram descended to Egypt”. (Genesis 10).The first aliyah in history is shaped by a hopeful dream and an immediate setback.

The Torah warns us not to confuse a land of milk and honey with a life of milk and honey, but nevertheless it does not neglect the dream of a blessed
life in the land. Instead, it reminds us
it is our duty to create and enable that blessed life.

Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky serves Young Israel of North Netanya

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