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Tziporah Heller: Escape from Ur Kasdim!

Tziporah Heller:  Escape from Ur Kasdim!

How are all of you Avrahams doing out there in Ur Kasdim?
Our ancestor waited 72 years (from when he first became aware of Hashem, at the age of three), to hear Him answer. You can only imagine what he heard from his family and friends. They all felt that they had answers from their gods. If you devote yourself religiously to the pursuit of money, the god of cash usually answers you. If you want ego gratification, power, prestige, turn to the god of control. They no doubt tried to reach their gods by appealing to the forces in nature that reflect their power, for example, the god of fertility, the earth itself, is what they saw as the source of plentitude. We would call it the god of cash.
They would no doubt have had innumerable proofs that their gods answer them. Avraham saw his G-d wherever he looked, and saw existence as an answer. He gathered thousands of students around him, wrote books, and opened eyes and hearts. You can only imagine how well he was loved by the establishment.
He wanted more. He was like a coil waiting to spring.
Nesivot Shalom tells us that the test at the beginning of this past week’s parshah was as great as the one at the end of the coming week’s parshah. Last week the opening words tell us that Hashem spoke to Avraham telling him, “Go to yourself from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house”. This week we read “Go to yourself to the land of Moriah, and offer him (Yitzchak)….” On the surface of things, this is very difficult to even think about. How can you compare sacrificing your beloved only child with moving beyond the limitations of your birthplace? As difficult as it is to carve your own path, how can you compare it to losing what is most precious to you?
The answer is that the second one is the logical outcome of the first one. In order to be able to reach the level that he needed to attain for the akeidah (binding of Yitzchak in preparation for doing what Avraham thought must be done, sacrificing him), he had to reinvent himself.
He had to do three things:
1. Leave. This isn’t just geographic; every country has its own culture. Some of the country’s culture is positive, (for instance, current American culture is tolerant, compassionate, and open to change) and some is negative (for instance the very same culture is more tolerant of similarity than it is of difference; the “I hate” problem alive and well. It is also arguably the most materialistic and competitive society to ever evolve). You have to decide to leave all of the negative realities behind you and forge your path. Take what is good, and move on.
2. Stop blaming your family. Move on. Every family also has its own culture. Select what is inspirational, integrate it, and leave behind the rest. You don’t have to be defensive because your mom is critical. You don’t have to repress your feelings in an unhealthy way because your dad yells. You can learn from your mom how to see things as they are (and not as you wish they were), and from your dad, how to be assertive (when courage is called for).
3. Love yourself as you are. When you were conceived, your basic traits were put into place. Some of your inherent traits are easier to deal with, and some far more difficult. It is up to you embrace the hard places and let the battle turn you into a spiritual warrior.
The place that Hashem takes you to is your own inner reality. It is what you experience when you think about what you like in yourself. What you are seeing is the G-diness within you. Every so often, reflect on the beautiful and pure side of your identity, and that will give you the will and strength to move on.

For over two decades Tziporah Heller has been teaching at Neve Yerusahalyim – The Jerusalem College for Jewish Women’s Studies – today’s largest Jewish women’s educational network. Known as an outstanding scholar of Jewish Studies and a gifted speaker, Tziporah Heller has been inspiring Jewish women and men of all ages who yearn to learn more about the depth and beauty of Judaism and connect to their Jewish heritage. As an internationally sought after speaker Tziporah Heller speaks to groups from every Jewish affiliation, including the Jewish Renaissance Manhattan, Aish LA & Toronto, Ohr Naava, Jewish Learning Exchange-L.A., Women’s Institute of Torah Baltimore, Torah Unesorah, Ohr Somayach, Ashreinu-Los Angeles, JLE-London, and many more.

Author: Tziporah Heller
Source: “Escape from Ur Kasdim! “



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