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Thought for the Day: Exorcising Old Demons

I was riding my bike downtown yesterday and was about to go through a puddle in a part of the street I have ridden over literally 100s of times before.  Seeing the puddle triggered a nearly 50 year old memory my father driving home from my grandparents one Sunday afternoon.  There was a dip in the road and it had been raining, so the road was covered in an inch or so of water.  My Dad slowed down and I asked him why.  "You never know what's under a puddle of water.  It could be a few inches deep or a few feet deep."  That's the end of the memory and it all that happened in less than an instant, but I had a lump in my throat as I went through that puddle faster then I liked.  I am sure my Dad had no intention of making a life lesson out of slowing down, but apparently he did.  I was rattled that a very minor incident that happened nearly 50 years ago could still cause me anxiety.

Avraham Avinu was told to go from "your land, your birthplace, and your father's house."  The Malbim notes that a person's attitudes and personality trait (t'chunos u'midos) are formed by his land (its mazal and air), his city, and his father's house.  Avraham Avinu was being told to separate himself from everything that formed him mentally and spiritually so he could start anew.  Our illustrious ancestor had recognized his Creator at three years old, had realized that his Creator loved him and desired a relationship with him by the time he was 40, and had been on an active kiruv campaign for 35 years.  Now, at 75 when Avraham Avinu worked with every fiber of his being to come close to HaShem he was being told, "Take it in steps; leave first the attitudes of your country, then your city, and finally work on those things you learned in your father's house."  Even very minor incidents in our father's house can have a lifelong impact.  Even an Avraham Avinu at 75 needs to take things deliberately and in stages.  There is no shame in having issues that need work; the only shame is giving up.

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