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Embrace Your Foreign Identity

“And G-d said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’”

With these words, Hashem told Avraham to leave the comfort of every familiar thing he’d known, to go to a foreign land and to live among strangers and always be known as the outsider, Avram HaIvri – Abram from the other side, Abram the Foreigner. (This is actually where we get our national identity from, the word Hebrew comes from Ivri, so you could say that this otherness is part of our spiritual DNA.)

Why would G-d ask such a big uncomfortable thing of Avraham? The Midrash Rabbah gives a parable from R’ Berachya to explain. Imagine a beautiful cut glass bottle filled with the most expensive and exquisitely scented oil. If the oil remains in the bottle, stopper in place, no matter how beautiful it looks, no one truly enjoys it. But shake it up, watch the oil slosh in the bottle unsettled, then remove the stopper, and breathe in as a wonderful aroma wafts through the air for all to enjoy.

If you have something unique or special to offer the world (and every person has) it does no good if it remains trapped inside. But when you embrace what’s uncomfortable and are willing to live with the identity of “the foreigner,” completely out of your comfort zone, that’s when your irreplaceable gifts truly shine.

(Side note, I definitely went out of my comfort zone here, using a very different pen from what I'm used to, dipping it into two different inks. Smudging it, too - but hopefully practice will make better!)

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