There are hundreds of things that people describe as “life changing experiences.” Any of you who can think back to your own college experience remember picking which incredible trip to Israel or social justice seminar that you were going to write about. I am very skeptical of life-changing moments. By no means am I saying that things in my life haven’t changed me over the years. But those life changing moments are not something that I recognized in the moment. They only appeared to me in retrospect. More on that in a second.
The Torah portion this week, lech l’cha, is incredibly fitting for Parents’ weekend. In this portion, God leads Abram to the land of Canaan, the land in which he will build his people. Also in this portion, Abram’s name is finally changed to Abraham. Lech Lcha, some of the first words in the parshah, can be translated in a few different ways. One of which is “go to yourself.” We are commanded, as Jews, to find ourselves through whatever path we may take.
As I start to construct my self in college, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people and moments that have made me the way I am. That made me think about backstroke flip turns. Backstroke flip turns require you holding your breath and estimating the placement of the wall. One of my coaches when I was a kid made us do them over and over and over, and I hated it. I would swallow water and bang my head on the wall (obviously not on purpose) until I was incredibly frustrated. The same coach pushed me off the diving blocks over and over until I was confident enough to jump off myself. I didn’t realize how much these lessons that I learned on the chlorine-coated deck really affected me until I looked back on them. I wouldn’t have taken as many risks if it hadn’t been for that one coach. He is the reason that I volunteer for so many things today and probably the reason that I’m standing up here. There is no doubt that he helped me to “go to myself.” Tonight, I’m asking all of you to think about those experiences which ed you to “lech lcha,” go to yourself. Shabbat Shalom.