By Helaine Bach, NFTY-SW member and RCVP from MSTY, in El Paso, TX
What would you do if someone came up to you one day, out of the blue, and said, “Go to this place, trust me – everything will be wonderful.” Many of the NFTYites in this room were put in this situation at the beginning of their journey that brought them to El Paso this weekend. You might have been a timid eighth grader when you were bombarded by an over-excited Membership VP. They probably told unbelievable stories of the joys of NFTY. You may have been the one who was reluctant at first and skipped the fist couple of events during your freshman year, but were eventually convinced by a friend of how amazing NFTY is. Then when you attended that event and finally you knew your friend was right, it was just as amazing as you had been told. You might even be the one who had it drilled into you at a young age that NFTY is an amazing experience and were the first one signed up for Fall Kallah your freshman year, eagerly waiting to see if it could all be true. No matter the circumstances, every NFTYite here has been told by someone to trust and blindly follow them across state lines and participate in a life changing event.
At the beginning of this weeks’s parsha, Lech Lecha, Abraham was asked to do the same thing. Perhaps his situation was a little more profound. After all, he was being asked to pioneer a new people, not attend a NFTY event (which, if I do say so myself is no small feat). I’m sure Abraham was pretty skeptical when he first heard G-d’s proposal, I know I would be. Leave my friends? My father’s house? Go to a land that you will show me? Why can’t I just know now? Would it really be that big of a deal to let me in on the secret a little early? All of these questions and more ran through Abraham’s head when he first heard from G-d. And yet, despite the doubt that Abraham must have felt, he blindly followed.
It takes an awful lot of trust to embark on a journey in which you do not know the destination. Sure, G-d told Abraham that he would show him where to go, but Abraham still did not know where he would end up. Sometimes journeys are scary even when you do know the final destination. It takes a lot of courage to get up and GO. Sometimes it seems easier to not take any chances at all, to simply sit and wait for something to happen to you. But this isn’t how life works. If you want your life to change, you have to get up and make the change happen for yourself. Sure, opportunities will present themselves, but unless you take them and make your move, they will simply be wasted opportunities which add nothing to your life.
This weekend’s theme, “Let’s Move,” focuses on the importance of being active to keep your body and mind healthy. When we take advantage of opportunities and move forward in our lives, we’re are bettering ourselves, body and mind. Each new adventure makes us a healthier person. Just as Abraham was made a better person when he trusted and followed G-d to the promised land, we are made better people when we start new journeys.
That is my wish for you, all of you. I hope that you will find a journey. Pick this journey and stick with it. There will be many great experiences and difficult obstacles, but at the end of this journey, you will be a better person because of it.
Shabbat Shalom and Lech Lecha, go forth!