There is a saying that asks “When is the best time to plant a tree?”-The first answer it gives responds “20 years ago”. How is that answer in any way helpful? When I have goals, am I to be told that I am running twenty years late? What is this trying to teach us?
In this week’s parsha, G-d tells Avraham to leave his father’s house, and to go to the land that G-d would show him. G-d tells him that he will make him into a great nation. Promptly in the next pasuk (phrase), Avraham leaves for Canaan. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but what is so special about this? People live their entire lives moving from place to place. Change is a natural part of living. It is not uncommon to want to start over. It seems fairly normal, at least it would seem pretty normal if it weren’t for two details specified in the text.
The first odd thing is that Avraham is picking up and leaving his entire life to go to the land that G-d would show him; he has no idea where he’s going! It’s one thing to travel on your own accord, but completely another thing to act with a trust that isn’t purely theoretical.
The second thing was that, at the time he left, Avraham was seventy-five years old. Picture this! Avraham explaining to his friends “So, guys, I’m moving to a new land that this G-d said he would show me! Oh and he promised to make me into a nation! I know I’m 75, but who knows?” It sounds absurd. But is it really?
Confession time: I lied. The quote I mentioned at the beginning of this devar Torah isn’t complete, and so maybe the second half of the quote will give us the insight we need to understand Avraham’s actions.
The quote goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the second best time is now.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re 17, 26, or 75. Today is the “20 years ago”. Who would you be if you weren’t who other people thought you should be? What have you been dying to do that you keep putting off?
It’s easy to box yourself into a way of life: “I am not a people person” or “I can’t public speak”. “I can’t ____”, “I don’t know how to____”, “I’ve never ____”. And that may be true. Right now you’re not good at that thing. You’ve never done that before, but you think you could be good at it. You can’t write off what you haven’t tried.
Look at the Jewish people now. Look at Israel now. G-d followed through on his end of the deal to Avraham. But the question I want to ask, is “will you?” What could you achieve with a little faith and an open mind? Now go. “Lech lecha”. You may not know where you’re going yet, but it’s never too late to start over.
Eliana Carasso – Vice President Chesed REBO 2016