This week, we read how God told Avraham “Lekh Lekha Go from your land and your birthplace and your father’s house to the place that I will show you.” God’s instruction to Avraham to leave behind familiar and beloved surroundings and people precedes God’s promise to show Avraham a new place, which is where he is truly meant to be.

I think many of us walk through life, waiting to get to our promised land, feeling like we are not maximizing our potential, in one area or another of our lives. For some of us, that feeling might come in the form of dissatisfaction with our work life, feeling we have talents and abilities that are untapped in our careers. Others of us may feel we’re not the parents or the spouses that we could be. Something is holding us back from fully realizing our potential in that area. Maybe our sense of dissatisfaction lies in the spiritual realm: “why don’t I feel God’s presence in my life?”

Often, I think the reason we don’t live up to our potential is that we hear that Lekh Lekha call, God saying “Go!” but we want to skip the part about leaving behind the familiar and the comfortable and the expected. However, we can’t arrive before we depart. We can’t become someone new until we’re ready to cease being who we’ve always been.

I encourage each of us to ask ourselves: what are the things that I am afraid to let go of, that keep me from getting somewhere new?

This week I attended a retreat as part of the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI) fellowship, which I’m participating in. One the watchwords that Rabbi Sid Schwarz, the director of the fellowship, shared with us, is “Nothing has to happen. Anything can happen.” Often, we are prevented from making needed change in our lives and in our communities because our to-do lists of existing obligations keep us too busy to try anything new. If my week is already full of necessary tasks, I can’t add anything new until I first decide that some things can go.

When we can say “nothing HAS to happen,” when we decide to clear space in our lives by letting go of things we had been treating as non-negotiable, then we give ourselves the time and flexibility necessary to actually make real change. Like Avraham and Sarah, we have to leave behind the familiar before we can reach our promised land.

In that spirit, I’m going to take a break from sending out a d’var Torah to be included with the weekly bulletin between now and the end of 2018. The bulletin will continue to go out as normal, but without my message, in order to allow me to focus on other priorities. I encourage those of you who have enjoyed reading my message in the bulletin each week to join us in shul on Shabbat, where I will of course continue to share words of Torah and thoughts about the weekly parsha.

I encourage you to join me in thinking about what departures we all might make as individuals and as a community, what in our lives might let go of in order to make room for new blessings.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein