Digging in or Digging deep

Be better Semites. That’s how a colleague suggests we respond to antisemitism. 

It’s not new advice. Actually, it’s been our formula for generations. Indeed, for millennia. Whenever we’ve faced periods of mortal and moral peril, as we do today, we’ve breathed new life into Judaism. This, in turn, enabled Judaism to breathe new life into us. 

How can you tell when Judaism has unclogged your ducts and poured new life into your spirit? If you’re like me, you sense fresh drive pulsating inside you. Syrupy hours are displaced by activating moments. You detect a keen new firmness that points you forward with purpose. 

I heard somebody say this week that we should spend less time reading self-help books and more time reading biographies. Being able to watch how others have struggled, surmounted challenges, and found ways to matter, can serve us better. 

This week’s portion of Torah offers a biography. The life of Isaac. He isn’t spared trauma. He lives through more than his share. And, somehow, he finds a way, in the end, to transmit blessings he received to future generations. 

“The Bible gives you its heroes in fragments” writes Liel Liebovitz in this year’s Library of Gratitude selection, soon to arrive in your homes, “and in putting them together you put together your own self” 

The center of Isaac’s story finds him digging wells. Actually re-digging his father’s wells (Gen. 26:18).  It’s high time for each of us to do no less.

Some dig in. They harden their hearts. Our way, instead, is to dig deep. The last well Isaac digs is named for spaciousness (Gen. 26:22). I’ve often said: the deeper we dig, the higher we vault. Isaac’s life story adds something more: the deeper we dig, the wider our reach. 

Join us this Shabbat as we draw inspiration from Michael Oren, tomorrow at KI as he brings us the latest from the front and urges us to continue to step up and do our part.

As you renew your commitment to digging deeper into your people’s storied track-record of recovery and resiliency, may you find yourself co-authoring its next chapter. 

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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