For Our Kallah Graduates

by Rabbi Audrey Pollack, June 4, 2017

Excerpted from May 27, 2017 Address to Solel Kallah Class

Almost 4,000 years ago, God called to Abraham and Sarah “Lech Lecha” – and they answered God’s call to go on a journey. Why did God choose Abraham? He wasn’t the only righteous person at the time, Noah was also described as being perfectly righteous. But, if we compare Abraham to Noah we see something significant. Noah built the ark that God told him to build to save himself and his family, but he said nothing about the flood. In contrast, Abraham immediately argued with God and protested, “Will you actually wipe out the righteous together with the wicked? If there are fifty righteous people within the city would you not save the city for the sake of the fifty good people within it?

Abraham never gave up – he believed in the Jewish idea that everyone has a divine soul with the potential to change his/her life for the better. Our Jewish mission has always been to work toward making our world a better place. And as Jews, this continues to be our task, to do God’s work in the world, to be God’s partner in the work of tikkun olam, to ask the ultimate questions, and to fulfill God’s purpose for us here on earth. Every Jew today is another link in the eternal chain of Judaism and the Jewish people that began with Abraham and Sarah.

What is it about Judaism that has kept us connected, committed to living Jewish lives and passing the chain of tradition onto our children? We are reminded each time we take the Torah from the ark, that it is “A tree of life to those who hold fast to it and all of its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.” The Torah addresses virtually every issue that one can imagine. As the Talmud says, “Turn it over and turn it over because everything is in it.” From relationships to business ethics, the treatment of animals, leadership, caring for the earth, suffering, holiness and mysticism. The Torah has embedded within it profound wisdom for how to live. But the Torah is not only a Jewish story. At its core, the Torah is about the world and all of humanity. God chose Abraham and Sarah to make a difference in the world: ”I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You shall be a blessing… All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.

Today, we are fortunate that anyone who wants to study Torah and Talmud and many other Jewish texts can find a vast amount of resources – volumes of books have been translated into English, French, Spanish and other languages that were formerly only accessible in Hebrew or Aramaic. And the internet has many great sites that provide information about Judaism and Jewish living – just ask Rav Google.

There is a great deal of wisdom to learn within Judaism. It is a lifelong path that you are just now starting out on as Jewish adults. The most important thing to remember is that Judaism is not an all or nothing proposition. It is about learning and growing and becoming every day.

A great Jewish sage once shared the following parable. Imagine that someone tells you there is a nearby street covered with diamonds, and you have five minutes to pick them all up. Would anyone walk away because they knew they couldn’t possibly pick up all those diamonds in the allotted time? Of course not! They would grab as many as they could even if they couldn’t get them all.

As you start down this path as Jewish adults, remind yourself that no one is able to “do all” of Judaism – but no one is able to “do all” of anything perfectly, and this certainly doesn’t stop people from trying. As you grow in your Jewish journey, know that your family, your Solel family, and your Jewish community are on the journey with you– and are here to support you and offer guidance and companionship on your life’s path. Mazal Tov!


Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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