This week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, begins with Abraham leaving his home, leaving his surroundings and going to the place where G-d will show him. With the culmination of him settling in the holy land of Israel, this highlighted Torah portion teaches us how Abraham forms a G-dly bond and is circumcised at 99 years old.
The commandment of circumcision is one that we are commanded to perform when a child is eight days old. Before the child is able to make any decisions, certainly any logical decisions, we immediately bring him into this special covenant with G-d.
We teach the child that his connection to G-d transcends logic; it transcends any understanding. He is tied in an eternal bond with G-d, a bond that can never be broken. Once the child has that bond, we are assured that we — parents — will have much nachas from him.
Life has many twists and turns, some for the better and others not so much, but we are reminded that we, as Jewish men and women, are tied to G-d with an eternal bond. It is up to us to live up to it and do what we can, day in and day out, to be a holy nation.
As a part of this holy nation, we care for our brethren, wherever they are, and try to provide them with the tools and resources with which they can serve G-d in whatever capacity they can.
In the same light, we are connected with our brethren in an eternal bond. Our fellow Jewish men and women are our responsibility and our concern, despite their observance, despite their physical or emotional health and despite their past doings.
When given an opportunity and even before given the opportunity, we seek out and help our brethren — we are connected with them in an eternal G-dly bond, and it is our responsibility, privilege and honor to be there and help them.
The Baal Shem Tov told his students at a gathering that a soul comes down to this world for 70, 80 years, sometimes, just to do a favor for another! To help another person in stress, to be there as a listener to another person who is struggling — how much more, so he would add, to do a spiritual favor for another.
As we begin the new year, it is timely to make a resolution to volunteer at the community agencies (at Aleph Institute we are always looking for volunteers) to help another person in whatever way possible. When passing someone in the street who needs our help, remember that you are a G-dly person and have this G-dly connection, and offer help. PJC
Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel is the executive director of the Aleph Institute-North East Region. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.