To delve more into these ideas, Yesod spoke with Student Rabbi David Maxa from the Abraham Geiger College in Germany, about the ‘Lech Lecha’ journey and how it applies to Jewish community work.
In his short (15 minute) podcast David focuses on the idea of insecurity and how we can learn to deal with it using the wisdom derived from ‘Lech Lecha’. We are delighted to offer David’s podcast in both German and English.
David Maxa reflects on the notion of ‘Lech Lecha’ using the work of Stefan Zweig and his book “The World of Yesterday”, which seems to him more relevant than ever. In a world of insecurity, and in a Jewish community that is dealing with change and uncertainty, lessons derived from the concept ‘Lech Lecha’ can give us strength and inspiration, and practical help, for moving forward into uncertainty.
David suggests seven steps to consider when taking bold new steps, in Jewish community leadership and programming.
- Moving forward into the unknown! Answers are rarely a binary Yes/No, but somewhere in between. “The choice is never between slavery and freedom; we must always choose between slavery and the unknown.”. (As quoted in Rachel Naomi Remen’s, My Grandfather’s Blessings, p.373-4)
- After deciding to take the first steps – do not lose touch with the context of your community. Remember to observe and listen to the people, stories and history of those around you.
- Don’t have too extreme expectations. You cannot expect the same response from a small town in Europe as you would from Jerusalem or New York.
- Human relationships are key. Even Abraham got up from the Divine Presence to welcome his guests. Work on building relationships with, and between people, to form a community.
- Team building. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Work on involving others into the planning and execution of ideas, making them feel needed and appreciated.
- Include Jewish learning. Food is not enough, programmes to enhance Jewish identity need knowledge, rituals, moral obligations, stories, jokes and even melodies. “The study of Torah is equal to the sum of all other mitzvot.” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 127)
- Don’t do it alone. Stay in touch with your teachers, find a mentor, go on seminars, “Make for yourself a rabbi and acquire for yourself a friend.” (Pirkei Avot 1:6)
Keep these points in mind whether you are strategizing about your community, planning an event, or sitting in a sukkah contemplating your own lech lecha. Why not take your team to sit in a sukkah (if available/weather permitting!) and study our Sefaria source sheet to explore this theme in more depth.
View our Tishrei Resource Of the Month to read more on the Jewish concept of Lech Lecha.