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    Forward & back – Lech L’cha

    Abraham departing from Haran, image from the 1728 "Figures de la Bible" by Gerard Hoet

    The Jewish year begins and ends with movement.

    Just after Sukkot, Parashat Lech L’cha says “Go!”; just after Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah says “Return!”

    It’s a parable of life.

    We are anxious to follow the words of Lech L’cha and to “go away from your country, your homeland and your parental house”.

    The big world beckons: we have to explore it. Sometimes the experience works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    In either case there comes a time when we want to go home.

    If our expedition has been a success we wonder how things are at home and want to check up. If it hasn’t achieved much we want to go back, sadder, wiser, probably poorer.

    Our roots have the habit of tugging at our innards. They leave us with a feeling of belonging.

    Even when we are away we still feel connected. Whilst we are exploring other places, other ideas, other ways, we can’t and we dare not forget.

    This applies with especial point to our Jewishness.

    In today’s world the temptation is not so much to forget but to be disloyal – not to say, “I’ve left Jewishness behind” but “I’m still Jewish but I am against Jewish ways”.

    In the end this only leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

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