Drash on Lech-lecha
We’ve just finished the Days of Awe, filled with introspection, self-examination: Have we been our best selves? Are we following our true path?
Then we rejoice in Torah, which is God laying out a path for a meaningful life. And we begin reading the Torah once again, starting with Genesis. In the first two weeks, we read the two creation stories, then the flooding of the earth, then the destruction of the tower of Babel and the scattering of the peoples. In these parashiot (Torah portions) we see that God is not very successful when dealing with multitudes.
This week we read of God’s injunction to Abraham: “Get going!” לך לכה – lech lechah. In chapter 12, God establishes a unique relationship with the man who will become known as the father of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. Through a large portion of Genesis we see Abraham talking with God, and arguing with God. Indeed, it is the moment of Sdom and Gemorrah, when Abraham reminds God that it is ungodly to kill innocent people, that gives the Jewish people the strong injunction to question authority!
The movement in the Torah is from the generic creations, the broad brush strokes, to the individual relationship with God. We can’t help but wonder why. Is it that God does not work well with nameless multitudes? Is it that God needs a specific person to talk with? Abraham’s personal relationship with God, and Isaac’s and Jacob’s and especially Moses’ personal relationships with God bring about the creation of the Jewish people.
We have done the work of the Days of Awe, and we have renewed our relationship with Torah; now we can spend the year searching through Torah for the path that will bring us closer to God, for it is in that personal, intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe that we can become our truest selves.
May this week of high drama become a source of light and strength.
Rabbi Em Mueller
Sim Shalom Online Jewish Universalist Synagogue