And Abraham journeyed…..Genesis 12:8

And Jacob fled….Genesis 28:10

Two great men. Two unprecedented legacies. And yet these two men and the paths they take are worlds apart. Abraham, begins with a vision of what was possible, looking forward into the unknown. His grandson, Jacob, however, begins with fleeing, running away, moving forward while looking over his shoulder afraid of what he left behind. Abraham’s journey is a constant process of moving ahead, with each step building a new reality, a new home. Jacob’s journey is one of taking his baggage with him as he continues to play out the same mistakes and causing much damage to others along the way.

The difference between the two is best summed up in the metaphor of the “windshield and the rearview mirror.” That metaphor goes like this:

Every car has a windshield and a rearview mirror, always with the same ratio of windshield to rearview mirror size. The windshield is approximately 80% bigger than the rearview mirror. It would therefore make sense that we should look forward through the windshield at the road upon which we are heading  the majority of the journey. The rearview mirror, although important to glimpse, now and again at where we have come from, is to be used a mere fraction of the drive. Or, in the words of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, “Don’t drive looking through the rear view mirror. We have small rear view mirrors and very large front windshields because what happens in the past is not nearly as important as what happens in the future: where we are going is more significant than where we have been.”

A friend of mine, who had a lifelong passion for racing cars, once fulfilled part of his dream and attended NASCAR training camp. Afterwards he shared with me a fundamental race car driving principle. If you start to lose control of your car and are headed for a crash, the first thing you do is turn your head and look away from the collision, back to the road and the direction you want to steer. That is because we crash into what we are looking at, we do great damage when we focus on where we don’t want to go. As you turn your head, you turn your sights and as you turn your sights you realign your direction back onto the proper path. Forget about looking backwards and focus on where you want to go.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi B

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