Life with a mission in a postmodern era
The Parasha in the daily life - Parashat Vayera - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald- 5780
The divine call to Abraham in the Akeidat Yitzchak – (Binding of Yitzchak: request of Hashem to Abraham to bring Yitzchak up as a sacrifice) is answered with "Hineni - Here I am".
וַיְהִ֗י אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְהָ֣אֱלֹקים נִסָּ֖ה אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי׃
"Some time afterward, G-d put Abraham to the test. He said to him, “Abraham,” and he answered, “Here I am.” (Bereshit 22: 1).
The Angel’s call that stops him from reaching out to the boy is also answered in the same fashion "Here I am".
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֵלָ֜יו מַלְאַ֤ךְ ה֙ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אַבְרָהָ֣ם ׀ אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי׃
“Then an angel of Hashem called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” (Bereshit 22: 11).
Abraham’s answer "Here I am" expresses an absolute willingness to obey the Divine Order even when he stands the most severe test of humanity; facing the basic paternal instinct and human desire for continuity:
ויאמר הנני. הנני לכהונה, הנני למלכות, הנני לשחוט, הנני ליהרג.
AND HE SAID: HERE AM I, i.e., HERE AM I for the priesthood; HERE AM I for the kingship; HERE AM I ready to slaughter my son; HERE AM I ready to be killed. (Midrash Tanchuma Buber Vayera Siman 44:1)
Saying "Here I Am": One Word, Powerful and full of Meaning:
"Here I am - for every mission, for every command, even the most difficult, for the highest of supreme providence.
‘Here I am’ - for every command from G-d, the most difficult and elevated.
'Here I am' - immediately and without hesitation. Unconditionally.
'Here I am' - all without measure and without distinction.
‘Here I am’ - Stable, complete, absolute, readiness for the King of the World’s calling" (Rabbi Bar Shaul "From the Well" pg 23).
The calling of "Here I am" is derived from the understanding that human life in the world has a purpose:
“The days of life were given to use them to put into practice something real” (Olat Reiyah Morning Supplications).
There is also a correlation between assignment and timing in which life appears in the world: "Before I was created, all the unlimited time before I was created, most certainly there must have been nothing in the world that G-d needed me for. Because if I was lacking for some purpose and the completion of something, I would have been created, and the fact that I was not created until this time, is a signal that I would not have been worthy until then, and I was not needed. And now that I have been created, means the time has come for me to complete something in reality". (Olat Reiyah, Part 2, Yom Kippur).
The person's entire life is intended to fulfill a purpose, a great, unique and personal role that is only for him, which can exist only in the particular generation in which he was born. This understanding shapes the person’s sense of mission. HIs life is not just for his personal benefit and pleasure but to fulfill his mission and destiny.
From Abraham Avinu we must learn about the mission in our lives: "And it turns out: Abraham Avinu's "Here I am" is a Torah for Abraham's seed for generations to come. A man of Israel according to his strength, his time and place, should say: "Hineni"- to what is needed of him according to his strength at that time and place. " Here I am" - for all who require him, the collective and individuals. For every mission, whether pleasant or unpleasant, whether easy or difficult, whether of loss or of wages, and only those who answer "Here I am" - for every command, are honored and respected. (Bereshit Rabbah 55)
"Here I am" - is the way: The way the man goes through in G-d’s world". (Rabbi Bar Shaul "Smell of Water" pg. 47).
The postmodern era challenges the sense of the mission. It challenges the existence of a binding 'absolute truth', and man is only subject to his own desires, subjective insights, personal interests and goals he sets for himself, here and now. 'Mission', on the one hand, means that there is something that is above man, that has absolute and binding truth, and is the compass that directs the purpose of life.
The religious public believes in integration, involvement and partnership with the general society in Israel. In the sectoral internal discourse of the religious public; in the educational systems, in youth movements, in Yeshivot and Ulpenot, in Mechinot and in Seminars - there is an educational discourse of 'mission'.
Also, in the general society there are frameworks in which this discourse exists, especially in security frameworks, emergency and rescue systems, health, education, welfare, the sector of voluntary bodies and more.
However, there are frameworks in which the 'mission discourse' has given way to postmodern conceptions: to highlight the motivation for 'self-realization', for feasibility, achievement and competitiveness. The ‘mission discourse’ may be received there cynically and even mockingly, as an archaic, naive and irrelevant concept.
From Abraham's way we must learn how to cope with the great challenge of the sense of mission of our time, not only to preserve it but even empower it, after all!