Jewish tradition says that Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was the epitome of greatness, and from him we learn lessons to help us as we live our own lives. Let us examine why.

God said to Abraham, go for yourself from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you ... (Genesis 12:1)

This command is puzzling. At this point in the Torah, Abraham has already left his land and his birthplace. So why is God instructing him to leave a place that he has already left?

The answer lies in understanding that Abraham's move is more than physical. God is asking him to make a journey not just of the body but of the soul.He is asking him to leave the comfort of the assumptions he holds about the meaning of life.

God is asking Abraham to re-think his values and his goals and decide whether they are in fact his or simply the result of the environment in which he happened to be born.

BUCKING THE TREND

Think for a moment about when and where you were born and raised. Under different circumstances you could just as easily have been born in Switzerland or Poland or Africa. And here you are today. What if today were 1960 or 2160?

In a different place or time we would probably be very different people, with very different values. So would our children.

In a different place or time we would probably be very different people, with very different values.

What would stay constant? What are the values that shape our direction and establish our goals? These values go beyond the country listed on our passports or the era that we are born into.

A child in the 1960s encountered philosophies of immense freedom and self-expression. Today the world has swung back to be more conservative and structured. What is politically correct today was not 30 years ago and will not be 30 years from now.

Judaism says that trends are just that -- they come and they go. Our challenge is to take the time to look beyond current fads and trends and embrace those critical values that affect us in a deeper, everlasting way.

LEAVING THE FAMILIAR

When God asks Abraham to leave the land of his birth He gives the instructions in a curious order. First He tells him to leave his country, then his city, then his family's home. Normally when one is leaving the order is reversed -- you leave your home, then your city, and then your country.

This tells us that when re-examining our values, it's easiest to begin with the values of our country, for it has the least impact on us as compared to our community, or our home. The order is not geographical, but personal.

What we believe in, what we stand for, and what we are living for should be well thought out, not dependent on where we happen to reside or what is in fashion. This thought process takes effort, and sometimes a little pain.

What we believe in, what we stand for, and what we are living for should not be dependent on what is in fashion.

The message of Abraham is that all of us must stop, and think to ourselves: "What do I really believe in? What are my goals in life?"

It is the greatness of Abraham that he heard this message from the Almighty, and went forth on a quest of self-discovery that still reverberates today.

Adapted from Lori Palatnik's Remember My Soul. Buy the book from amazon.com