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“Cause I gotta have faith” – George Michael

November 10, 2016

faith“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Below is a summary of this week’s Torah Portion Lech Lecha from www.chabad.org

G‑d speaks to Abram, commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” There, G‑d says, he will be made into a great nation. Abram and his wife, Sarai, accompanied by his nephew Lot, journey to the land of Canaan, where Abram builds an altar and continues to spread the message of a one G‑d.

 A famine forces the first Jew to depart for Egypt, where beautiful Sarai is taken to Pharaoh’s palace; Abram escapes death because they present themselves as brother and sister. A plague prevents the Egyptian king from touching her, and convinces him to return her to Abram and to compensate the brother-revealed-as-husband with gold, silver and cattle.

 Back in the land of Canaan, Lot separates from Abram and settles in the evil city of Sodom, where he falls captive when the mighty armies of Chedorlaomer and his three allies conquer the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Abram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew, defeats the four kings, and is blessed by Malki-Zedek the king of Salem (Jerusalem).

 G‑d seals the Covenant Between the Parts with Abram, in which the exile and persecution (galut) of the people of Israel is foretold, and the Holy Land is bequeathed to them as their eternal heritage.

 Still childless ten years after their arrival in the Land, Sarai tells Abram to marry her maidservant Hagar. Hagar conceives, becomes insolent toward her mistress, and then flees when Sarai treats her harshly; an angel convinces her to return, and tells her that her son will father a populous nation. Ishmael is born in Abram’s eighty-sixth year.

Thirteen years later, G‑d changes Abram’s name to Abraham (“father of multitudes”), and Sarai’s to Sarah (“princess”), and promises that a son will be born to them; from this child, whom they should call Isaac (“will laugh”), will stem the great nation with which G‑d will establish His special bond. Abraham is commanded to circumcise himself and his descendants as a “sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Abraham immediately complies, circumcising himself and all the males of his household.

I had been planning a blog on faith for a few months, but then I noticed that Rabbi Ledder, whose weekly blog I read had written on the topic. Knowing that Parsha Lecha Lecha is the perfect Parsha of faith, I decided not to read Rabbi Ledder’s blog until I had posted my blog.

Avraham’s life was the epitome of emunah, “faith in G-d”. He bravely challenged the pagan beliefs of his times and championed belief in the existence of One Supreme G-d.

I started thinking about this Blog before all the Jewish holidays when we started to say the 13 principles of faith. These were codified by the great codifier of Torah law and Jewish philosophy, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (“Maimonides” also known as “The Rambam”), compiled what he refers to as, the “Thirteen Fundamental Principles[1]” of the Jewish faith, as derived from the Torah.

What is faith? – The Artscroll Siddur (page 62) defines faith as “..something that we believe, even though we have seen neither it not proof that it happened..”

After all the “Chaggim” (Jewish New Year Holiday’s), I like to try bring these days together, to try give them meaning and see how they have impacted on my life. One of the key points that I picked up this year was the link between Shemini Atzeret and the other days. I learnt that Shemini Atzeret represents the bringing of this new level of faith and spirituality from the start of the month of Elul, through Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot into our everyday lives and to have faith that the new year will be ‘good’ (whatever this may mean).

But, there are no guarantees of this good year….

One of the wisest and most astute comments of the rabbis of the Talmud regarding life is that “all new beginnings are difficult.” – Rabbi Berel Wein

Rabbi Sacks makes the following statement “Each day is a question asked by G-d to us” #ReflectionsOnLife

Especially in these turbulent times when nothing is clear to us any longer, we need to strengthen ourselves in our beliefs and our service to G-d and man.” – Rabbi Wein

I do not normally get too personal on my Blog, but the start of this year has not been easy and has been a test of my faith. Faith in general, faith in my ability, faith in myself and faith in the future!

The original idea for this blog, was from Gemma Di Bari’s FAITH Column[2] in The Age. Gemma gives another interpretation on FAITH that I think is very important when going through a difficult time.

She starts the column “Life can be a spectator sport or a truly daring adventure.” She then says “We allow the small voice of uncertainty to become a roar that paralyses us into inaction, keeping us safe but also disillusioned…. To change one’s life requires faith and faith requires action.” She then ends the column “The mountain itself is not the greatest challenge, it’s being brave enough to take the first tentative step…., with determination, take aim at my goal and continue my climb.”

Faith has a “doing” component to it. “Faith without works is dead.” – James 2:17

Not to get too soppy, negative or serious, I am currently reading “Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian” by Anthony Ervin, In the book Antony describes how he tried to commit suicide, the feelings during his attempt and his thoughts when he woke up alive. These are very well summed up in this quote, that really gives meaning to life and faith “The notion that he could find existential answers by ending his life now seemed the ultimate conceit. Seeking answers, he realized, is the work of life, not death.” (NOTE – if you are having any thoughts of suicide, PLEASE contact – BeyondBlue for immediate help! )

Faith means loyalty and trust even in the seemingly bad times, during both thick and this, no matter what” Rebetzon Chaiya Danielle

As a side – I suppose in this modern world we need to have faith in technology. I was listening to a Podcast featuring Biz Stone. Biz was one of the founders of Twitter and has just started a new company called @AskJelly . The idea of this App is for people to ask questions. Similar to asking Google, but you get specific answers from a person and not millions of website. I decided to #AskJelly what is Faith. Yip I got an answer – “Confidence or trust in something/someone without asking for…

I started the Blog with a quote from the GREAT Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, so I thought that I would end with a quote on Faith by the great Australian comedian Magda Szubanski on her thoughts on Donald Trump, just before he was announced President Stay strong my friends. Even if he wins. Especially if he wins. We must be peaceful warriors of the light –  #Faith #Strength #Light “.

I noticed that Hilary Clinton in losing the presidential race made the following statement on faith “I think you have to keep asking yourself, if you are a person of faith, what is expected of me and am I actually acting the way that I should?” The commentators have said “…Hillary Clinton’s Faith Will Help Her Cope with Shocking Presidential Defeat”

To end a few more quotes:

“Faith is the art of living with a question and recognizing the spiritual power of the query, which only dies when it is answered” – Rabbi Nathan Cordoza

“Believe that good things will happen and they will.” – Elusive Street/ Graffiti artist – Banksy @therealbanksy

[1] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/332555/jewish/Maimonides-13-Principles-of-Faith.htm

[2] http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/sundays-faith-column-20160907-grb1dx.html

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