October 15, 2021 (9 Cheshvan 5782)
The Spirit of Lech Lecha
I hope this correspondence finds you well and in good health. We look forward to seeing you either in-person or on Zoom for Shabbat services tomorrow morning at 10:30AM.
This week’s Torah portion of Lech Lecha tells the story of the courage of Abraham in answering God’s call to, “Go forth from your native land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Our commentators point out that the command is increasingly arduous emotionally, with the final and most difficult test being Abraham’s readiness to leave his father’s house. Abraham’s journey takes place in many stages and over many years.
Specifically, a full accounting of Abraham’s travels, show us that in just a few chapters he journeys from Ur Kasdim (with his father Terach, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot) to Haran, from Haran to Beit El, and then to Egypt (due to a famine), before returning again to Beit El. With the aid of a biblical map, I approximate the total travel distance, with its many stops and starts, to be in the vicinity of 1156 miles. That is a long way to schlep in a car, let alone via a caravan of camels!
Approximately nineteen months ago, my daughter, Nava, engaged on a Lech Lecha of her own. To the best of my knowledge, she had not received a direct calling from God, but she certainly had carefully planned her college career so as to dedicate her junior year abroad to study Spanish in Barcelona. Like thousands of other college students, Nava’s plans of Lech Lecha came to a screeching halt due to the start of the pandemic. Reactively, as parents, we scrambled to fly her home due to an announced impending travel ban.
Like Abraham, who managed different stages of his journey under different circumstances, Nava is now ready to continue her interrupted Lech Lecha. At the end of this month, she will fly to Columbia, in South America, in order to volunteer for an environmentally sustainable agricultural community. Afterwards, she will continue to work remotely for a U.S. based company for another month before leaving Columbia to travel the world.
Ironically, like Abraham, who at the beginning of God’s command, did not know his final intended destination (remember God says simply, “Go to the land that I will show you.”), so too, Nava’s itinerary is in flux and up in the air.
My prayer for this Shabbat is that for all of us, who find ourselves on a physical or spiritual journey of Lech Lecha, may we, like Abraham (and hopefully Nava), feel God’s guiding protection, be blessed with God’s blessings, and bring the best of ourselves to return in peace, health, and fulfilment.
Rabbi Eric L. Wasser, EdD