Rosh Hashona: The Journey of the Spiritual Searcher
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov helps prepare you for the Jewish new year!
As we move towards Rosh Hashona, the new year according to Judaism, it is a time for for looking back as well as looking forward. It is a time to revaluate who we have been and who we want to be. It is a time where we take a step back, look at our lives, our interpersonal relationships, and our relationship with God, and, in a sense, hit the restart button.If we are going to “restart” the journey of our lives right, I think it is imperative that we revisit the life of the original Jewish journeyman – Abraham. The first time that God makes a prophetic appearance to Abraham, God tells him, “Go, to yourself, from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house...”
If we take a close look at this verse, a number of things don’t seem to sit right. First of all, the verse begins with a very strange phrase: “Go to yourself.” What does that mean and what can we learn from it? Furthermore, God tells Abraham to leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house. Why list all three? Couldn’t God get the message across with “Hey Abe, it’s time for you to leave your land”? After all, his birthplace and his father’s house are included within his land. Is God just trying to rub it in and make it more painful? And even if God wants to list all three of them individually for whatever reason, why in that order? Isn’t it backwards? Should the verse not read “father’s house, birthplace, land”? When I took God up on this verse and moved to Israel, I initially left Teaneck, New Jersey, then the New York/New Jersey region, and then the United States of America. The way this verse appears, it is as if God said to me, “Eliyahu, leave the USA, the New York area, and your house in Teaneck.” Why tell me to leave New York or Teaneck if I’m already out of the country?
The Kabbalists teach that this verse can instill within a person a deep sense of individuality. As mentioned, all that happens to us and all that we are born with has been custom designed to our unique soul in order that we make choices in life under those specific conditions. Some people are born into wealthy families; others are born into poor families. Some are born into a more religiously observant environment; others are born into a completely secular surrounding. Some people grow up in stable, healthy homes while others grow up in broken dysfunctional ones. Each one of us is given exactly what we need to be given in order to achieve what we need to achieve through making the choices we need to make under these specific circumstances. The idea of “go to yourself” mentioned in the Torah means to go towards one’s unique potential — the reality of who you can be.