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Unstoppable

Friday, 15 October, 2021 - 7:56 am

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was once blessed by Mr. David Chase that he be able to continue his wonderful work for many years.

Without hesitation, the Rebbe responded, “I am not satisfied with only continuing. It must increase.”

After this dear supporter insisted that he would be satisfied if the Rebbe simply continued the status quo, the Rebbe added that not only must he (the Rebbe) increase, but he also expects Mr. Chase to increase. A living being, the Rebbe explained, must always grow.

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In this week’s parsha, Lech Lecha, we are introduced to the first Jew, Avraham. G-d’s opening words to Avraham – as recorded in the Torah – are, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.”

Of course, this was a personal mission for Avraham and Sarah. But, it was also a collective mission for the Jewish people. It’s the opening scene – and mission statement of sorts – of Jewish peoplehood.

In fact, fascinatingly, the closing moments of Moshe’s life are characterized by a similar theme: One of the last parshiyot of the Torah, Vayelech, opens with the words, “And Moshe went.” The eponymous parsha is named after this activity. At the time all the Jews were already assembled. This statement, then, is not referring to geographic movement – but to a figurative or spiritual journey. The Torah is apparently making a big fuss about “going.”

So, the opening of the Jewish story – and the closing of it in the Pentateuch – is all about going and traveling forward.

What is it about traveling that is so relevant and critical to Judaism?

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Chassidic thought explains a fundamental distinction  between angels and humans.  Angels are very lofty, spiritual beings. In many ways, they are the mark of perfection. But, angels are stationary. They don’t experience success and failure. They don’t have good days and bad days.

Humans, on the other hand, have the capacity to regress. They can also move forward and achieve. This ability makes humans superior to angels. And, it’s why G-d created us – to choose freely; to generate goodness and holiness.

And, because this is the unique nature of mankind, it is at the core of the human mission. And, more specifically, at the core of the mission of Judaism.

From the moment Avraham was commanded to “Go!” we are on an eternal mission to keep progressing, to achieve more and more.

We can never be satisfied with our spiritual achievements (as opposed to material gains). So long as we are still breathing, it means we have more to accomplish.

Go forth. Go forth. Keep moving forward and never be satisfied.

You may not be an angel. But, every moment, you have the ability to outperform one.

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