2017-10-25 / Religion Column

#MeToo must encourage us to treat all with respect

RABBI YISROEL TZVI SEREBROWSKI
Torah Links of South Jersey

Parashat Lech Lecha
Gen. 12:1-17:27

Can you fathom embarking upon a journey with no destination in mind? Which roads would you take, in what direction would you travel, and how would you even know when you have arrived? To top it all off, what would be the purpose of your journey into the unknown?

This precise scenario—and worse—is what our patriarch Abraham faces in his Lech Lecha mission. The Almighty simply says lech lecha—go! Uproot yourself from your familiar surroundings and move away—from family, community and milieu—never to return. To where? To the land that I will reveal to you at a later point. In other words, destination unknown.

The questions are rather obvious. What would be the purpose in hiding this information from Abraham? Would the journey be any less meaningful if he were to know the final destination? Also, even under the best of circumstances travel is fraught with heightened nerves and uncertainty. Why would God deliberately increase Abraham’s stress level, seemingly for no constructive purpose at all?

Jacob ben Wolf Kranz, better known as the Maggid (Preacher) of Dubno (1740-1804), offers the following parable: A fellow was walking through the forest when he noticed an amazing sight. Tree after tree with a target painted on them, with an arrow at the very center of each target. He then came upon a little boy with a bow in his hand.

“Are you the archer who shot all these arrows?” the fellow asked.

“Yes,” replied the boy.

“Then tell me how did you manage to always hit the center of the target?” the fellow asked.

“Simple,” said the boy, “first I shoot the arrow, then I draw the target.”

All too often, when we embark upon a journey of discovery (i.e. scientific, philosophic, moral, academic, religious, etc.), we tend to shoot the proverbial arrow first, to establish our desired end-result. We then selectively cull supporting facts, which we utilize to paint the perfectly positioned target around it.

In the Lech Lecha challenge, The Almighty is training Abraham in the art of truthful discovery. Leave all familiar positions behind. Carry along with you no preconceived notions. Search for the truth wherever it may take you, even and especially when it takes you to unfamiliar and uncomfortable terrain. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone, for that is where true personal growth is to be found. It is for this reason that no GPS coordinates are given. Indeed, the truthful journey is the destination.

Of late, there has been a grassroots social media campaign to expose the magnitude of the very horrible crisis of unwanted attention, harassment and worse, being perpetrated (for the most part) against innocent women. It is utterly disheartening to see the widespread pervasiveness of this scourge.

As a society, we must be willing to engage in truthful introspection as to the underlying causes of this devastating conduct. We must follow the trail of truth no matter where it takes us. We must be willing to face uncomfortable truths. We must be willing to make the necessary changes to eradicate this terrible problem. Each and every one of us must do our part to behave with dignity and respect to women and to every human being. We must encourage those in our sphere of influence to do the same.

May we be blessed with the wisdom to engage in truthful discovery, the courage to implement necessary personal improvement resolutions, and the continuing desire to step out of our comfort zone and really grow every day of our journey through life. 

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