This week’s Torah portion, Parshas Lech Lecha, is all about one of the most influential figures in Jewish history, Abraham. Our patriarch, mentor to thousands, teacher of monotheism, loved everyone and lived to give to others; there is so much to learn from him. There is one idea that Abraham taught the world that was completely revolutionary, and I want to focus on this idea.
If you could come with me in a time machine, and we transported ourselves 3,800 years in the past, here is what we would find: a world in which spirituality existed, but it was in the hands of few. Most people lived lives focused on satisfying their drives and passions, while every once in a while throwing a sacrifice at the gods to keep them happy and off their backs. Yes, there were those that were engaged in spiritual growth on a serious level, but they were the priests of the temples, and few and far between. The average Joe (or Sonbeth or Nerikare – those are actual names from that time period lol) did not live a life of religion, rather his religion was a side part of his life.
Along came Abraham, who introduced a completely new concept to the layman. He taught that every person, no matter what his job is, has the opportunity to have a real relationship with the Almighty. The obligation to believe, to learn, and to grow applies to everyone. This idea was completely revolutionary, as the people had never even contemplated a concept like this. That every person, no matter how average, has the ability and opportunity to serve the Creator all the time, was totally new to the world.
Judaism says we are a “Mamleches Kohanim,” a kingdom of priests. This means that every one of us, whether our father was a Kohen or not, whether she is a Rebbetzin or not, has the ability to be a priest, to live a life of deep connection with the Almighty. Every single moment of existence is an opportunity for spiritual growth, for the Rabbi and the layman alike. This is the idea that Abraham taught the world, and it is an idea that we can still completely relate to today.
You do not have to be a Torah scholar to live an inspired Jewish life. You do not need experience studying deep philosophical texts, nor do you have to have any special ordination. We all are obligated to grow spiritually, and we all have constant opportunities to make our Judaism real and relevant. All we have to do is open ourselves to it, and we will find the beauty of Torah to be our own personal heritage.
A young man was in the process of conversion to Judaism. The Rabbi attending the process asked him what is was about Judaism that attracted him to the religion. His response was meaningful and profound. “Every other religion promises a glorious future existence after death. Only Judaism offers true fulfillment right here on earth.”
Every second of our day has opportunity for spirituality. Whether it is saying the Modeh Ani when we wake up in the morning, or blessings over food, there are myriads of moments in which we can connect to the Divine. One of the most powerful moments of potential G-dliness is really a 25 hour period we call Shabbos. Shabbos is a chance to experience spirituality with all our senses, and it is a time to be one with our soul. Bring Shabbos into your home this week. Feel the spirituality, and tap into the Divine.