Living with the Times
In addition to the classes the yeshiva has, there are certain subjects that are encouraged to learn daily by the Rebbes. One of the subjects is reading the weekly Torah portion that is broken down into daily sections. The Friedeker (Previous) Rebbe was known to say, “from the Parsha of every week, we need to learn a lesson in life.” Even more so, there is a teaching from the Alter Rebbe to “live with the times,” meaning, “we must live with the Torah portion of the week and, more specifically, of the current day. It is not enough to study [a segment of] the weekly Torah portion every day; we must live with it.” Funny enough, over the past two weeks this lesson has become more apparent to me. I began a new practice where I read the daily section after concluding morning prayers. Similar to reading the news for the day, it instills in my mind what happened in the Torah for this day. Surprisingly an event occurs that reflects the daily portion in a personal and meaningful way.
To see how it played out specifically in my life - and begin seeing it more regularly in your life - let’s first explore last week’s Torah Portion and this week’s Torah portion.
Last week was the Torah portion of Lech Lecha (which is my favorite Torah Portion!). In beginning of the portion, G-d tells Avram (before he received the name Avraham), "Lech Lecha…” meaning “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” The phrase Lech Lecha can be translated to mean “Go to yourself” or “Go for yourself.” In yeshiva we learned an exploration from the Rebbe on the meaning of this verse and what it is here to teach us individually.
In short, G-d is testing Avram to go beyond his limitations and to live from his higher self. The land, birthplace, and father’s house each represent an aspect of self to be transcended. The word for land used is meartzecha which shares root with the word ratzon (will). The “birthplace” represents G-d telling Avram to go out of his emotions and habits. Finally, “from your father’s house” represents getting beyond your intellect and ways of thinking. In order to be in touch with your higher self, one must go beyond his will, his emotions, and his intellect.
Why is it important to “go for yourself” in order to be your higher self?