“Lech lecha” – go on a journey. The Jewish adventure started with these two words. Avraham was called upon by G-d to boldly go forward into the unknown. And so began the journey of Jewish destiny.
We are the sons and daughters of Avraham. We look up to his sparkling example. To really live life is to be on a journey of courage, a bold and inspired journey to fulfil our purpose in this world. Being on a journey means that we are constantly moving forward and growing as people as we uncover our inner greatness.
To achieve what we were born to do – we keep moving. We are never satisfied with the status quo. We strive to become even greater. We have a guidebook for our journey – the Torah, which G-d gave to clarify the path we must take. Jewish law is called “halacha”, from the root, “to walk” – to go on a journey. It lights the way on the path before us.
It is significant that The Shabbat Project this year (11/12 November) falls on the Shabbat we read the portion of “Lech lecha” – go on a journey. The Shabbat Project has been an exhilarating journey of discovery for the Jewish People. It has been a journey of discovering that we can find one another in a spirit of unity, and that we can enjoy the immersive experience of one complete Shabbat with all of its spiritual, emotional and physical wellsprings.
It is a journey that began in South Africa in October 2013, when the vast majority of our 75 000 Jews warmly embraced and participated in it. It has continued for three years since then as it quickly captured the imagination of the Jewish world, and now reaches Jews in more than 1000 cities and 90 countries, across 10 languages, with more and more people joining in as you read these words. It has been a journey of adventure, joy and inspiration. Inspiring stories have come in from people all around the world which reflect their personal journeys they have travelled on the Shabbat of the project and then after that, journeys of self-discovery, journeys of rediscovery of Jewish identity and sense of mission.
The Shabbat Project journey has been driven by the vision of a united Jewish world, a Jewish world which is not formed in the pain of persecution; but in the joy of our shared heritage. The journey has been an exhilarating one, one which has been driven by a real thirst for Jewish unity and the deep desire for Jews just to come together and transcend all of the labels that we give each other and simply to relate to one another as brothers and sisters as part of Am Yisrael, the children of our Father in Heaven.
The journey of The Shabbat Project has also been driven by the magic of Shabbat – so desperately needed in the world in which we live. It is a journey of reconnection to our families, friends, community and to ourselves. A journey of reconnection to Hashem. It is a journey of tranquillity and togetherness in a world of fragmentation and noise. It is a journey of wisdom and clarity in a world of confusion. It is a journey of faith and destiny in a world of doubt.
And so, this Shabbat “Lech Lecha” let’s continue on our great adventure of The Shabbat Project together. Let us learn this timeless lesson from the dawn of Jewish history, that to change the world we need the boldness to go forward on a joyful journey together. Let’s keep it together and Shabbat shalom!