Chaye Sarah: the power of verbs

limmud lamed 2The power of a verb: Go.

You go. I will go. Time to go. It’s get up and go time.

Abraham just left his birthplace during last week’s parasha, Lech L’cha. Now in Chaye Sarah, it’s Rebecca’s turn. There’s a lot to like about Rebecca. She is a pretty decisive woman. She makes her choices and sticks with them. But first, a little background.

Abraham has asked his trusty servant, known as Eliezer, to go back to the old country and get a wife for his son Isaac. Under no circumstances is the woman to come from the Canaanites. There are a lot of verbs in this section – Rebecca is a busy girl. She goes, she lifts, she runs, she waters, she draws (water), she runs some more. It reminiscent of the section last week when Abraham was welcoming his visitors; he ran, hastened, took, bowed, prepared – all in a couple of sentences.

All this busy-ness catches Eliezer’s eyes, and he suggests to her than he should come home to her family and ask them for her hand in marriage, on behalf of his master’s son, Isaac. The family is in favor of the match, but ultimately, it is Rebecca’s choice. “Elech. I will go”

And so one word ensures the continuation of the people, the promise God made to Abraham.

Jewish life is a life of verbs. We do. We do and hear, as we read in Exodus 24. Jewish life goes beyond Jewish learning. Jewish life is Jewish living, emphasis on the –ing.

This weekend is the ultimate Chicago experience of Jewish living, Limmud Chicago. This is the annual festival of Jewish learning, taking place Nov 15, 16 in Skokie IL. (I’m posting this a bit early, so you have enough time to register; pre-registration closes Wednesday, but you can always walk in the day of, but it’s a little more cost.)  But it’s not just learning – it’s all the verbs that go with the learning: sharing, exploring, stretching your horizons, running (to the next session) , sitting, talking (with the interesting person you just met in a session), connecting, and building. And just as Rebecca’s one word, “elech, I will go” ensured the future, moving from clan to community, Limmud does the same. The whole community gathers, regardless of denomination, affiliation, background, knowledge or profession. Not only professionals teach, and everyone is a learner. There is no other opportunity like this, an experience based on respect, empowerment, volunteerism and passion. A community that learns like this ensures the an engaged, active future. I really believe that, because when a community cares, a community survives.

These are not just words, just as “lech l’cha” and “elech” are not just words. They stand for movement, moving forward into a future. Rebecca grabbed her chance to make a difference. You can do that too by coming to Limmud Chicago this weekend, making a difference in your own Jewish life. Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach will lead Havdalah, and will join other invited presenters like Joel Grishaver, Amichai Lau Laie, and Yaffa Eptstein. The rest of the 70-ish presenters? People like you and me….people who have something to share.  Check out the program.  If you can’t find a handful of sessions you’d like to experience, well then….actually, I’ve never known anyone who didn’t.

Limmud Chicago is one of over 60 cities around the world, hosting events just like this. Limmud lives by this goal: Wherever you are on your Jewish journey Limmud will take you one step further. Motion forward, full of verbs. Join hundreds of other members of the community at Limmud Chicago. See you there.

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