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Step Up in Faith

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. . . like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. Deuteronomy 32:11

Note to our readers: Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, begins at sunset today. As this is a non-working holiday, these devotions were prepared for you in advance.

The Torah portion for this week is Ha'azinu, which means "listen," from Deuteronomy 32:1-52, and the Haftorah is from 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

I don't know what your next step is in life, but I do know that you have to be willing to take it if you are going to progress on your walk with the Lord. God helps us in all our well-intentioned endeavors, but we need to be willing to take the first step. Faith is more than just believing. Faith is putting belief into action by making decisions, taking risks, and doing what God has laid on our hearts to do.

This idea is alluded to in this week's Torah reading when Moses described how God took His people out of Egypt. In Exodus 19:4 we read, "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." It's a beautiful image of how God lovingly carried His people like an eagle to where they needed to be.

In our portion we read a similar word picture: "like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft." Here, too, Moses was referring to how God carried the Israelites through the desert. However, looking at the detailed description in this passage, the Jewish sages teach that God spread out His wings so that the children of Israel might climb aboard, but it was up to the Israelites to take that first step up.

In other words, God is ready to carry us and be with us in our challenges and spiritual pursuits, but we are the ones who need to make the initial move.

Consider the following: According to Jewish tradition, four-fifths of the Israelites did not leave Egypt. Only one-fifth had enough faith to follow God out of Egypt and into the unknown. After the destruction of the First Temple when the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, announced that the Jewish people could return to Israel even offering to help foot the bill only a handful of the exiled Jews returned to their homeland. Most Jews chose to remain in the comfortable life they had built abroad.

Today, once again, the Jewish people have the opportunity to return to Israel - to be carried on wings of eagles back to their homeland through the modern-day miracle of flight. And for the first time in history, most Jews have chosen to do so. The majority of Jews reside in Israel today. I call that progress.

Friends, whatever your next step may be, I hope that you take it. No matter how uncomfortable or worrisome it may seem, know that when you step out in faith, you step into God's protection. God will carry us and bring us to where we need to be.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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