They called him a horse thief. That was the worst possible epithet that one could hurl at a young man in the early 19th-century shtetl, or village, of Czernovitz. Back then, a horse was a very necessary item, and many of the townspeople spent all of their hard-earned savings to procure one. Losing one's horse often meant losing one's livelihood.
Disillusionment. I first learned about it on a park bench on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where I attended high school. I learned about it from three old gentlemen, each affected differently by disillusionment, and each with a different lesson to teach.
I grew up, as I imagine most of you did, believing in the basic principles of democracy. My parents and grandparents deeply appreciated the freedoms that they experienced in the United States. My mother especially raised me to cherish the values of our country.
I read the story quite some time ago. It was told by a young woman who boarded an airplane early one winter Friday morning. She was on her way to Chicago from New York to spend a weekend there with friends.
I have always found this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27), especially inspiring and instructive. It is in this parsha that we are told the story of Abraham’s aliyah, of his journey to the Holy Land.