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Swimming Against the Stream

Do we have the courage to swim against the stream, even against the torrent of social media “likes”? To be in the minority? To be different? The weekly Torah portion, parashat Lech lecha, presents us with the father of our nation, Avraham Avinu, who blazes a new trail. He teaches us not to be concerned about Judaism’s refusal to adopt the ways of the surrounding culture. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explains the Jewish DNA which Avraham passed down to us, an inheritance for all the generations that would come after him: “The isolation of Avraham was the result of his total opposition to the culture of his day. His values stood in stark contrast to the accepted values of that era. Avraham’s values were a rejection of the attitude that: 'I am an morally upright person of consequence since I live according to what fashion dictates'. For Avraham Avinu, what mattered was a person’s relationship with G-d. In our times, people advocate for 'Judaism according to the spirit of the times'. The sharpest protest against this idea is the first mitzvah that was spoken to Avraham: Lech lecha! Go forth! Be different! Did the appearance of Avraham in history fit the 'spirit of the times' in Babylonia, Assyria, Sidon, Egypt? From the time of Avraham, until today, great courage and complete faith in our inner truth is demanded of us. How could we have survived – and how will we survive – if we had not inherited from Avraham Avinu a permanent minority status that comes with the courage to be different?”

Translation by Yeshoshua Siskin


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