Lech Lecha: Gain Experience, But Remain Inspired

I just spoke to my rav in Yerushaliyim, to wish him a Happy Halloween (some holidays he beats me to the call, especially May Day, but I’m usually quicker than he is regarding Halloween).  We were discussing technology and its usage regarding work.  When is what appropriate and so forth.  Somehow, we got off topic a bit and spoke of spammers.  His wife finally got a computer and email nearly a year ago, so they don’t know much about it.  However, he said forty years ago his father’s boss, a man who built a company from scratch, a man with a big head on his shoulders, received an official letter from the Prince of Nigeria, informing him that he has to run for his life, and needs a bank account, etc. etc., you know the rest.  I was shocked that such a thing, especially with the same “person” and country involved, went back so far.  When I told him that it’s a famous email scam as well, HE was shocked that it would still be going on.  He asked me if I ever responded to one.  I told him that I was tempted to, but I just don’t want to go there.  He then suggested that next time, I write back saying, “Hey!  I’M the Prince of Nigeria!  How dare you steal my identity!” and see where it goes from there.  He suggested that I send a picture of my (white) self to add extra bait.

It is tempting….

When Avraham entered Canaan, he “offered up korbonos to Hashem with Bais-El to the west and Ai on the east” (Bereishsis 12:8).

Rav Avigdor Miller asks why is the location so important?  Does it really matter where exactly he did it?

Then, when Avraham returned to Canaan, after a brief stay in Egypt, he went back to that first location, near Ai and Bais-El, and brought offerings a second time in the same location.

The reason for this, says Rav Miller, was to show that a person should always look back at the more idealistic times in his life, to give him strength during times which do not feel so “inspired.”

As a person gets older, he gains experience.  He sees things that he could not see in his youth.  Much of what he has learned could have been positive, but for many, the idealism of youth slowly frays away.  Somebody once told me that you will see many people who were very liberal in their youth become more conservative in their older age, but very rarely will you see somebody very conservative become liberal.  Liberals (I’m not talking far-left) tend to be more “inspired” and “hopeful,” while conservatives tend to think, “let’s be real here.”

But in truth, we need to have a nice balance.  We need the experience in life to grow and to protect ourselves.  But, we must also do our best not to lose the inspiration and hope that we had in our younger years.  Going through life without any “fire” is simply going through through the motions…and what a waste of 120 years, if that’s how we spend it.