“Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone.”
Our introduction to the first of our forefathers, Avraham, begins with the words: “And Hashem said to Avram.” Why did Hashem aim this Divine directive at Avraham in particular? On what grounds did Hashem select Avraham? What of the others who populated that pre-monotheistic universe? The Chiddushei HaRim (Sefat Emet, Lech Lecha 5632 and 5662, based on Bereishit Rabbah 39:1) supplies an answer to this quandary that is as beautiful as it is brilliant, encompassing within it the great challenge of modern man in an increasingly frenzied society: The call of the Almighty went forth for all to hear; only Avraham, however, made the choice to answer that call.
As we initiate the season of reflection, atonement and connection to Hashem, we remind ourselves that we are not merely involved in a unidirectional conversation. Engagement with the Divine is a two-way street, in which we are being called. Our Sages note (for example, Pirkei Avot 6:2) that a bat kol, or a Heavenly voice, calls out from Mount Sinai each day, unbeknownst to the Children of Israel. Do we hear it? Are we answering the call?
How do we answer that call at the Orthodox Union?
• We ensure that our imprimatur is not merely a stamp but a pledge of quality, of excellence, for over a million products worldwide.
• We elevate over 32,000 teens in spiritually uplifting activities, conversations and communities.
• We create communities of Torah, leadership and service on over seventy college campuses in Canada, the US and Israel.
• We serve over 1,500 individuals with special needs and their families.
• We engage hundreds of thousands in Torah learning, including programming for women leaders and projects for a number of the underserved communities within our ranks.
• We support thousands of American olim in our homeland. And much, much more.
And now in our season of personal goal setting for the new year, our professionals are also setting their sights on goals for the coming year. If we have already accomplished this much, what can we accomplish together in the coming year? What are the questions we can answer? What are the callings containing our names, our potential? We have much to do—and we are just getting started.
And we need you, too.
Wherever you are in life—college student, new alum, busy professional, empty-nester, recent retiree—what is your calling? We have much to accomplish, all of us, together.
The question and the test, then, is to discover our calling; to understand our challenge; to tease out that soft, subtle and sometimes soundless voice that beckons us to rise to our potential, and to magnify it into a resounding declaration that both guides and colors our lives. May this be our berachah for the coming year and for many years to come.
Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph is executive vice president/chief operating officer at the Orthodox Union.