The Torah reading for this coming Shabbat is called in Hebrew “Lech l’cha,” usually translated “Go you forth.” It is YHWH’s loving call to Avrum, who lives in the edge-lands of the great Babylonian Empire, to go beyond them, to where small communities tend sheep or tiny farms on rocky hillsides.
But “l’cha” means literally “toward you,” maybe “toward yourself” or even “ toward your self.”
Walk forth, away from where you are -- where you are used to -- to find your true self.
Who sends him on this journey? YHWH, the sacred Reality Whose Name can only be pronounced by simply breathing. (Try pronouncing “YHWH” with no vowels, not “Yahweh” or “Yehovah.”) The Breath of Life has sent him forth to find himself.
This week, the American people has heard this Call. We are living through many unaccustomed earthquakes, which have toppled many of our accustomed idols.
Some of these idols we ourselves have begun to rock from their pedestals. The idol that said that health was only a private concern and didn’t need any serious public action. The idol that said racism was only a private nastiness, not a systemic infection. The idol that said we could do anything we wanted to Planet Earth, and never have to deal with fires, floods, or famines. The idol that said that billionaires amidst dead-end poverty did not threaten our democracy.
Do we try to run back to prop up these once-familiar idols, or “go forth to find our true selves”?
Lech l’cha, says the Breath of Life to America!