Honorable Mensch-ion


What circle are you a part of? I ask this question each year to graduating high school seniors. By this time in their lives, they are a part of many circles: The family, the synagogue, the community, the city, the United States, the people of Israel, and the world.

This same question could be asked of the Jewish people as we conclude the book of Genesis this week. Our story started as a family, but at this pivotal moment, we are transformed into a nation. We know families have diverse opinions and personalities, and we know when families come together to form a nation, that number expands exponentially. This is our reality. We even see this demonstrated in ancient Israel. Just last week, in the city of Migdal on the sea of Galilee, a second synagogue was uncovered, just 200 meters away from the first. Archaeologists suggest that the close proximity mirrors the social reality of the community. To put it simply, “This is the synagogue I go to, and that’s that synagogue I don’t go to!”

Each of us lives in different circles. At the dinner table, we are part of our family. At the synagogue, we are part of our community. At work, we are part of the greater world. We are individuals, families, and nations.

Thankfully, we can learn from our ancestors in our Torah how to be all of these at once. As individuals, we have a responsibility to community, and as a community, we have a responsibility to the world.

Jacob changed from one to all of us as Israel. Who will we become with the days we are given in this world? It is up to us to decide.

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