Lech Lecha Batmitzvah
Rabbi, Mum and Dad, Nana Grandma Family and Friends.
This week’s Sedrah "Lech Lecha" tells us of G-d's first commandment to Avraham. Lech means 'go.' Avraham was being instructed to leave his land and father's home from a protective existence, to make his own mark in the world. "Lech Lecha Me' artzecha, Me' moladetcha u Me Beit avicha".
Avraham was commanded to give up his entire past and follow G-D's lead to a new land.
Our Rabbi's interpret the second word "Lecha" as meaning 'for yourself' 'On your account.' Rashi explains that setting out on such a journey is fraught with danger and there was a possibility that Avraham would lose everything he had. Therefore, G-d promised him that the journey would be to his benefit, his wealth, family and reputation would increase. What is this benefit and good? "I will make of you a great nation". By not specifying Avraham's destination G-d kept him in suspense and thereby made the destination more beloved in his eyes.
In reality, Avraham did not need these assurances. The Sages tell us that he had total faith in passing all the tests with flying colours. By travelling through the world Avraham was setting out on a path of self discovery. His wanderings were intended to enable him to understand his own identity as well as affect his surroundings.
The total of our experiences are intended to discover our inner Godly potential. G-d leads us through a world with other people whom we both give and receive. Avraham was a singular individual, a man who taught the belief in One G-d to a world that did not listen. We too are assured of G-d's constant guidance on our own journey through life. At every moment a watching hand is directing us to advance our personal growth and our own contribution to the world.
G-d commanded that Avraham and Sarah severe all their contact with their past and loved ones when they were in their 60's and 70's. It is never easy for a person to start life all over again. Avraham and Sarah were all alone, they could not blend into whatever culture that surrounded them.
Avraham was called "Ivri" the Hebrew from the word "Ever" which means the other side. Literally this means that he came from the other side of the river, but the Sages interpret it in a deeper sense too. Avraham was on one side of a moral code, and the rest of the world was on the other side.
Avraham teaches us to have faith, but not to rely on miracles. In difficult situations we must do our bit and G-d will help us achieve the rest.
The Sedra of "Lech Lecha" also tells us about the breakup of a partnership between Avraham and his nephew Lot. Avraham and Lot arrived in the land of Canaan with so many possessions that the land could not support them both. Were they unable to share the land? Surely there was enough land for the two of them, but their differing priorities made the relationship between them difficult. Lot was focused on his own material wealth, while Avraham combined financial prosperity with great concern for those around him. The two men had little in common, and for this reason they could not live together.
Rashi quotes a Midrash which suggests that Lot was keen to assert his rights to the land of Israel. He felt that since G-d had promised the territory to his family and it would eventually pass to them.
Avraham, by contrast, knew that G-d had promised him the land, but he also understood that his time to inherit it had not yet arrived. Avraham is a role model to us. He demonstrated his religious identity with acts of loving kindness, "chesed" such as opening his home to strangers and offering them hospitality. Lot was not a villain, he didn't harm others, but he didn't help them either. Jewish life is not only about claiming our own rights it is about serving G-d, helping others and mending our world, doing our bit for Tikkun Olam.
Like Avraham who had to leave his country, birth place and his father's house my Grandfather Alfred Huberman, who even shared the same Hebrew name Avraham, had to leave his home in Pulawy, Poland, behind in 1939 and come to England in 1945 after going through 6 concentration and death camps. As Avraham he had to start in a new place far from family and friends he knew.
Unlike Avraham who came with possessions my Grandfather came with nothing. At the end of the war the British Government agreed to let a thousand orphans under the age 16 come into England if they did not cost the government anything. They could only find 732 survivors.
My late Grandfather was one of them. This group were and are still known as "The Boys".
One of my most precious possessions is a chollah cover which I made for my Bat Mitzvah test. My late Grandfather trained as a successful tailor and gave me the guidance for it.
My Papa Sydney Lukover was born and raised in England during the 2nd World War. He is sadly missed especially today on my Bat Mitzvah and like my other Grandfather his guidance will be with me forever.
I'm grateful to have known both my Grandfathers. I'm happy to have my Nana Rhoda and Grandma Shirley here with me today to celebrate my Bat Mitzvah, and making it complete for me.
I started this year at Yavneh College and I'm looking forward to learning Jewish history and about my heritage which I enjoy very much. I like finding out about my family past and looking forward to discovering some interesting facts. I love netball and all other sports. Helping people where ever and when ever it is needed.
I would like to say Thank you to my family who come from far and wide to celebrate my Bat Mitvah.
Many members of our family did not survive the Holocaust and for this reason their decedents who are here today have made this day even more important to me.
Am Israel Chai.