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Parashat Lekh Lekha (Genesis 12:1-17:2)

“Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem,
at the terebinth of Moreh. The Caananites were then in the land.” (Genesis 12:6)

Parashat Lekh Lekha opens with God’s command to Abram: “Lekh Lekha, go, yourself, from your land, from your birthplace, from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1) Jewish commentators have analyzed this verse for centuries, yielding the master metaphor for Jewish life: a conversation about a journey. On one level, the journey is an external, physical one; Abram will travel many miles and undergo many trials to before reaching this unidentified destination. But since the Hebrew word lekha can mean to yourself (in addition to for yourself) lekh lekha also commands an internal, spiritual journey. Abram must journey to find himself.

Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman (b. 1942; Professor Emeritus at HUC-JIR and expert in prayer and liturgy) asserts being “landed” (reaching and receiving God’s promised land) is to landlessness (where Abram starts out) as being at home is to exile. The concept of being at home applies both to the Jewish people as a group, and to individual Jews. Further, being at home can mean physically as well as spiritually. Being healthy is being at home in your body, physically. Being sick is being in exile from your physical self. Feeling connected to the world around you is being at home spiritually. Feeling disconnected is being in exile.

God commands Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, veheyei b’racha, and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) This is the purpose of Abram’s journey. To move from exile to home, physically and spiritually, and to use that rootedness as a source of blessing to others.

Gut Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom

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