Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
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Lech Lecha – Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone
Every Saturday Jews in synagogues all over the world read the Torah portion of the week, where another section of the Old Testament is read. While we are reading a different story each week, it is believed that there is a specific energy that exists for the week as well.
The portion that will be read this Saturday is called “Lech Lecha” where G-d says to Abraham, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” (12:1)
Rabbi DovBer Pinson of Iyyun sent this Dvar Torah this week that I’d like to share with you:
Thus begins the journey of Avraham, beginning with the leaving of his “home land” and the place of his comfort zone, and journeying to the place of his destiny.
Avraham is invited to take this incredible journey of becoming a great and influential man, an invitation to self actualize and deeply discover the essence of his being. To do so, he must leave three things – his ‘land,’ ‘birthplace,’ and ‘father’s house.’
These three represent the things that we use as an excuse to stay inflexible and unmoving.
‘Your land’ refers to our space which is our physical location.
‘Birthplace’ infers our particular time, the era in which we live.
‘Father’s house’ references our unique genetics.
It is common that we make excuses for ourselves that allow us to stay in one place and not live our life to its fullest. We rationalize why we stay stuck in our circumstances. We may tell ourselves, ‘it’s not the right time’, ‘maybe later on in life’, ‘I’m not in the right place’, or ‘I don’t have it in me’, ie; it’s not within my genetics.
This week’s energy provides us with the strength and ability to be flexible. We challenge ourselves by coming out of our comfort zone and entering the unknown, in order to grow and discover our deepest self.
The Energy of the Week:
Flexibility & Movement
This week’s energy is to overcome stubbornness and inflexibility. Don’t say, it’s not the right space, not the right time, or I don’t have the strength. Stop making excuses.
This is a good week to begin a journey… or make a move that you have been holding off on. If an opportunity to do something or go somewhere new arises – take advantage of the added strength of flexibility and make the move.
* * *
How fitting that this week’s portion has to do with stepping out of our comfort zones, as this past weekend was the first time I ever went camping. All of my friends know me to be a city girl and not someone who likes to be “one with nature.” Sure, I love dancing barefoot and can appreciate a good drum circle now and then, but one who enjoys hanging out with bugs, I am not.
However only a month ago it was Rosh Hashana – the head of the new year – and G-d and I made a deal that this year would be different from the last. I promised myself to experience as much joy as possible and to make this a year of firsts, so when the opportunity to go camping arose, how could I possibly have turned it down? Exactly, I couldn’t. Instead of resigning myself to be a city girl whose only encounters with nature is a walk through Central Park, I had to leave my comfort zone and jump on this opportunity to challenge myself like I hadn’t before. And how I was challenged…
I met up with my experienced camping friends on Sunday afternoon. I knew I wanted to go with one of my best friends and was so excited to have her around to help me if the trail got a little too rough. Armed with Ponds face cream, black eyeliner, and matching red sunglasses, our group of 3 Jews and a Palestinian (as I liked to call it) finally departed from Brooklyn. We left our land – our comfort zone – and embarked on our journey.
We didn’t leave as early as we should have, and because of that we finally arrived in the Catskill Mountains well after nightfall. We had no other choice but to hike in the pitch black night, save for a headlight and a lantern. We hiked a trail for 1.6 miles in the dark, climbing over rocks, trekking through mud, and trying to avoid stepping in streams until we finally found our home for the night.
It was a perfect little enclave that we jokingly called our apartment, equipped with our 4-person tent/bedroom, a living room with flat rocks as our couch, and a private bathroom around the corner. Yes, I’m sure I complained on the hike up, and I struggled, but I welcome the opportunity to challenge myself in order to grow as a person. And the reward of sleeping under the stars was worth it. Like nothing I had ever seen, laying on my back in our tent, I felt like I was staring at a black and white photo. With red wine in our bellies, we all dozed off.
The next morning it was time to hike up the tallest mountain in the Catskills. I won’t lie to you. It was hard. It was sweaty. It was liberating to hike in my bra like a bikini top – it was like I was one with nature and was returning to the time when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden and didn’t know they were naked! Okay, maybe not like that…but we saw some of the most beautiful views from the scenic lookout points, and we laughed, and sang songs, and helped each other when we got to some rough patches.
My friend Lilah says I win the Rookie of the Year Award because this was an intense camping experience for a first time. Everyone was expecting me to hate camping with a passion. I’m actually looking forward to doing it again, knowing what challenges I am capable of. And next time I want to sleep under the stars for at least two nights (my favorite part), and really get in touch with my crunchy side with outdoor yoga, meditation and prayer.
Rabbi Pinson says that this week we need to take advantage of opportunities that take us to new places. So here I am writing this on a last minute flight to California to visit another bestie. I want to wish you all the strength to take advantage of these opportunities that bring you out of your comfort zone – in all aspects of life – if only for but a moment. Amen!