I was fortunate enough tonight to have dinner with the rabbi from B’nai Vail (I call her the eco-rabbi) and two other Jews not from her congregation. I learned (among many other things) of a program/concept/practice in some Judaic circles (OK, maybe learned is a bit of an exaggeration) called “wayyelek”. At least I think that was the name of it. That Hebrew word means "and he set out." Let’s not worry if I got the name right, though, and think about the idea I took away from it.
The rabbi was talking about a Jewish program she had once participated in that, six months into it, she discovered was about Abraham leaving his homeland, kin, and father’s house. The point of this program was that Abraham left his heritage in order to truly discover it. So I don’t know if this program was a challenge to the foundation of these young Jews’ religion or culture in hopes they see it from some other perspective. I certainly don’t see anything explicit or really even implicit in the Bible that demonstrates this idea, but perhaps it’s in the rabbinical tradition, which I am thoroughly ingnernt about.
Still, the idea certainly resonates with me. We believe we are exceptionally blessed to live in the United States. But we never knew just how great that States is, or how much better it could be, before seeing what it isn't! That is precisely why Di and I think that extended travel outside the U.S. is so important for the sake of our own country. Without perspective, do we become (or have we already become) a nation of solipsistic navel gazers?
The gentleman at dinner tonight asked “what don’t you like about the U.S?” (“to cause you to leave” being the implication). And now this provides a perfect answer--it is not to leave it that we leave; it is to remind ourselves of, and give our kids a way to see, the possibility and promise of our homeland.
And also we’re really sick of working so much.