Friday, November 8, 2019 /10 Heshvan, 5780
Parashat Lekh L’kha Genesis 12:1-17:27
Please note: This post is a special guest Parashat from Cantor Ilan Davidson
In every person’s life, there are moments when we, like Abraham, hear a voice inside saying, “Lech Lecha — Go forth!” It is up to us whether or not to listen and heed that voice, or to ignore it and stay where we are. We have all had these moments, and some of us have even listened, at times, only to find that there was a blessing awaiting us on the other side.
This week, while we read this important portion, we also celebrate Yom HaAliyah, the day of celebration of those who heeded the voice in the late 19th century, to leave the place of their birth and settle a wasteland in the Middle East that would some day become a blessing to all the Jewish people, Israel. Among those who heard this call were my great-grandfather and great-grandmother.
They actually believed so strongly in the call that my great-grandmother set sail from Russia with her children, alone, while my great-grandfather remained for a time to support his young family as they settled. When they were denied a visa to emigrate, they didn’t let that stop them. When Menachem Mendel Rivkind, my great great-grandfather learned that his friend, Menachem Mendel Davidson had received two, one for the US and one for Israel, he quickly changed his family name to Davidson and took the one his friend was not using.
Ultimately, my great grandparents settled in Rishon LeZion, right next door to one of the original immigrant families, next to whom my family still lives today. They turned a wasteland into a thriving, modern country, and raised their new generations in the “promised land.” Had they never listened to their inner voice, the voice of God, they would have never known the gift of this land of milk and honey. That was 1889, and 20 years or so later, my great-grandfather passed away, with 4 young children and a wife left behind to build upon his legacy. None of them ever looked back, and as we read these words of Lech Lecha again, this year, we have so much to look forward to.
If you have never visited the land of Israel, consider listening to your inner voice and going forth with me, this summer, to see the land that my family and countless others built over the past 130+ years. Israel is still a land flowing with milk and honey, even amidst modern challenges. Israel is a land where every day, people are still heeding the same call of Abraham, and moving forward to places unknown, sharing their discoveries to better the entire world. May we all know the blessings of the first Aliyah!
Cantor Ilan Davidson