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Rabbi's Weekly Message

Rabbi peltz - thursday, november 7

While our world has become more connected, it has also become less personal. Ordering off the internet causes us to forgo those small conversations with cashiers and the unexpected meeting of friends at the store. Texting allows our children to connect directly with their friends, without having to ask for them after greeting whoever picks up the phone. Lekh Lekha, our Torah portion this week, reminds us of the importance of these brief interactions. Lekh Lekha tells the story of Abraham and Sarah, the founding parents of our religion. We will read how they respond to God’s call to go out to an unknown land. In the Torah it says, vayelekh l’ma’asav, “And Abraham went on his journeys.” The great 11th century French commentator Rashi sees an important ethical lesson from the way Abraham traveled. He comments: “When Abraham returned from Egypt to the land of Canaan, he spent the night at the same inns where he had spent the night on his way to Egypt. This teaches us derekh eretz, ethical conduct. A person should not change the places he stays on a journey.”

Why is this an important ethical lesson? Perhaps it is because by staying in the same places, Abraham was able to build relationships with people. In becoming a regular customer, he showed loyalty to these business owners. He showed he cared about them. Today it’s easy to make our business impersonal. But when we do that we miss out on personal interactions. We all have our usual people and places, whether it be the place we get our haircut or the Starbucks or Wawa where we purchase our morning coffee. We might not think about it, but our regular presence at these places makes a difference. Both for the people who work there, and for us. Even these brief experiences can help us to build relationships, and to create a sense of community. Being connected isn’t the same as being close. That only happens when we can meet face to face, and share an experience, however small, together.

Tue, November 12 2019 14 Cheshvan 5780