Midreshet Amit


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Parshat Lech Lecha

By: Lizzy Luxenberg

In this weeks parsha -Lech Lecha, Hashem was not merely telling Avraham to Journey and relocate geographically a few hundred miles to the west-- He was telling Avraham to make a complete break with the culture in which he had grown up and spent all of his life.

Before I talk more about this parsha, let me tell you a story about another not so famous journey that takes place annually in the state of Minnesota.

In Saint Paul, Minnesota, every year they have a winter carnival. They need to get outside and embrace community despite the brutal weather. The real spirit of the carnival is the Search for the Medallion- small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The local newspaper prints clues every day as to the location of a medallion that's been hidden. But only towards the end are people able to hone in on the general location. So people bundle up and head out in every which direction looking for the medallion. The winner gets a cash prize, gets their picture in the paper, and sometimes, along the way, gets frostbite.

In case my metaphor isn't perfectly obvious, let me put the medallion hunt in these terms:

You're in this vast amazing environment, and you're expected to piece together incomplete and ambiguous information to find a hidden something that you figure must be valuable because everyone's looking for it.

That's basically Midreshet AMIT. We have begun to search the school, all five floors. The clues are hidden in within our families' apartments, in the pages of the Tanach and locked within the souls of our kids. Everyone, however, is searching for something different, however small, however large. We all have personal goals and we all have personal ways and paths we chose to take to fulfill our purposes. But one thing that's common among all of us is the bundling up together to do it. We can search forever, but were not searching alone. Together we head out; together we embark on the journey.

Could there be a better parsha to compare our beginnings at Midreshet Amit than to Parshat Lech Lecha? After all, we have made our own journey -our own personal odyssey away from the comforts of our homes -the love of our families and everything that is familiar to us to spend a year in Israel at Midreshet AMIT.

The essence of this year at Midreshet Amit is togetherness, warmth, unity, and love. Only with the support of new friends and new people to welcome in can we really grow and embrace independence. Through listening to others and understanding different perspectives and taking on new projects, we ourselves grab a little handful of every body we encounter, and create who we ultimately become. I mean, honestly, if I was given a shekel for every time one of the 22 incredibly diverse personalities I'm living with in Beit Hayeled has impacted me so far this month, I'd be rich. It's an unsaid guarantee here that the people, and the playground will be leaving me with perpetual imprints and those imprints will mark who I am for the rest of my life.

A repeated theme throughout the Torah is G-d's comparison of Bnei Yisroel to the stars and to the earth. The first time he ever does this is in this parsha—Lech Licha. In fact, Bereishit 12:16, He promises that the Jewish people will be like the dust of the earth. Now there are various interpretations to this but one beautiful one related through the Baal Shem Tov, explains the analogy of the children of Israel to the dust of the earth in this magnificent, magical way: when one digs in the earth he can find the most valuable treasures such as gold, and diamonds. Similarly, in every Jew, there is concealed riches. It is necessary to delve and search within them to bring out these treasures. Later on, in 15:5, Avraham is told to count the stars—indeed, the exact opposite of the earth. The lesson is that when one stands on the ground and looks up to the sky, the stars appear to be tiny. In realty, the stars are larger than the earth, and as we approach them, we can begin to appreciate their size and beauty. The same is true for every single jew. Superficially, one may appear to be insignificant, however as one becomes closer and gets to know more about him or her, one can perceive the greatness and beauty of each individual.

Isn't this what we are doing here, at AMIT. Aren't we spending our time learning in Eretz Yisrael, but at the same time continuing and perpetuating this same lesson that Avraham has pioneered? This lesson of chesed by working daily with these challenged children? Making sure that none of them are forgotten, to make certain that we bring out all the beauty and wonder that these children, these stars, have to offer.

But there is something else more. Another beautiful insight that I want to share with you. You and I know that it is merely impossible to count the stars, or the dust of the earth. So why did god command Avraham to do this? He did it because he knew that even though it was impossible, that Avraham would attempt it anyways—Avraham would attempt even the impossible. At this stage of our lives, we too are challenged with this. Even though things may seem difficult, we must rise to the occasion and accept the challenge. Whether it be overcoming obstacles…we will attempt it and challenge ourselves.

Now it's true, we are still learning about our friends, measuring our relationships and mapping out our futures, unsure of where we will be and who we will know. But one thing we know is where our medallions lie, right here on 9 Rechov Hashayish at Beit Hayeled. And for next year's Medallion, we will be hunting and learning along the way. Good searching, my friends. I love you and wish you well.

Lizzy Luxenberg is from Great Neck, New York. She is a graduate of North Shore Hebrew Academy High School