Did you ever think, “If only I could be one of those people”?
You can. It’s a three-step process:
1. Leave your comfort zone.
2. Pray that you withstand the tests.
3. Take additional actions the perpetuate your mission of making the world around you a place where G-d, Torah, mitzvahs and spirituality are more welcome.
Abraham and Isaac were spiritual leaders, they were righteous, they were giants of holiness. They made a pact with Abimelech that he will allow them to explore their spirituality, and the name of the place was called Beer Sheva, which means well of the oath, because there they made a pact.
Ultimately, the agreement was one of live and let live. I won’t mix into what you are doing and you don’t mix into what I am doing.
Jacob was also a spiritual giant, but he wanted to change the world. He left this calm, comfortable place Beer Sheva to go to Charan, the target of G-d’s fury in the world (Rashi on Bereshit 11:32).
He went into the war zone of the world. He went to a place where most people like you and me live. He went to a place of struggle, where sometimes we are successful in doing the right thing and sometimes we struggle to do the right thing.
On his way to the war zone, he prayed.
Why pray? What is prayer anyway?
I used to struggle with prayer. A bunch of words saying the same thing every day? Does G-d really need our praises? Eventually, I learned (and am still learning) that prayer is something else entirely; it’s a connection with something greater. It’s recognizing that I am not a small insignificant person. I matter, I can make a difference, I can change the world. And not only can I, but I must. The creator of the world is relying on me to make an impact. How can I renege on this mission?
Prayer, in a nutshell, is, “G-d, You are great, and thank you for choosing me to do this mission that you gave me. I am ready for the mission. If you give me financial success, I will use it for charity, if you give me wisdom, I will use it to teach Torah, values, etc.”
And then Jacob went to Charan and created a Jewish family. It didn’t happen overnight, it took many years, and his uncle Laban was still not the good kind of person that Jacob hoped for him to become. But Laban’s children were part of those who the Torah calls “a light unto the nations.”
Good Shabbos, and go change the world!
Rabbi Kushi Schusterman is spiritual leader of Harford Chabad in Bel Air.