D’var Torah: November 11, 2016

In this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, God commands Avram to go forth into a foreign land. As an aside, it is the basis for the very popular Debbie Friedman song LechiLach. God instructs Avram to leave his land, his birthplace, his father’s land, to a land that God will show him (Genesis 12:1). If he does this, God promises to bless him and make his name great. God further promises to bless those that bless Avram and curse those that curse Avram.

Upon the initial reading of the text, these are not really concrete promises. They are much more abstract. But in reality, whenever starting out on a new journey, we never truly know what the destination will be. We may think we know where we are going, but life is always filled with unexpected twists and turns. Or as the old Yiddish proverb goes, “Mann tracht und Gottlacht – man plans, God laughs.” Avram could have easily just ignored God, stayed home, and continued to make a living in his father’s idol shop (Midrash Beresheet 38:13). But instead he chose to forgo all that he knew and headed out into the great-wide open. And Avram did this when he was 75 years old.

How many of us have been afraid to take on our own personal journeys, our own leaps of faith, as our Torah portion is reminding us with the question: what is holding you back? Without Avram’s journey, we would not be here today as a Jewish people. All it took was the power of one person with a vision and a belief, and from him and Sarai, his wife, the world would soon be forever changed.

May all of our journeys continue to be blessed. May the obstacles in our way be overcome. And in uncertain times may we all remember that no journey is straightforward, and that we may not know where we are headed. But may we also remember that we are on our sacred journeys together.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjamin Sharff