וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃
יהוה said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”
This week’s parasha begins with God directing Avraham to leave all that he knows, the place he was born and where his family is, to move to a whole new place, one that he doesn’t know and has likely never even imagined. Although so much of this directive is related to land, and thus ground, I am imagining that this experience for Avraham was one of groundlessness. How did he find ground - meaning stability, hope, faith and trust - that what God promised, blessings and abundance, would indeed come true? How could he feel secure in that moment of so much unknown?
These past three weeks have left so many of us with a feeling of shifting ground, a sense that the ground has fallen out beneath us. One of the ways I have been finding stability is by studying with my teacher, Reb James Jacobson-Maisels, the founder and director of Or Halev, Jewish Spirituality and Meditation Community. He has been teaching online from his home in Hanaton, in the North of Israel. James lives there with his three young children, his wife and, of course, a large and connected community.
James is frightened, sharing a list of the many things that are unknown, from whether they will be able to get the food they want in the grocery store to whether or not they will survive. At the same time, he shares with us uplifting stories of tremendous kindness that he and others are witnessing between friends and between strangers. My teacher, as he guides us in this moment, allows us to witness his skill of sharing with us the truth and vulnerability - of what is arising for him, acknowledging that everything we all are feeling is part of this moment and need not be shunned. With grace in a time of extreme hardship, James has been offering us practices for this moment inspired by Torah and Chassidic texts. These meditations offer tools for finding ground, helping us to zoom out from the suffering long enough to remember that there is something much larger than us, into which we can lean. These practices require us to slow down and to pause from looking outward for comfort or for answers, reminding us most importantly that God is grieving together with us, and that we are not alone and not separate.
I hope that, if only for this moment, I can remind each of you, from my tender heart to yours, that you are not alone, that we are not separate, and that you are deeply loved and cared for.
Take a moment to pause. Feel the ground under your feet. It is there, as it was for our forefather Avraham, rising up to meet you.
Shabbat shalom shalom,