This Week's Torah to America: Love & Lech L'cha!

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’chasays the Breath of Life to  America!

Lessons on War from Father Abraham

Rabbi Susan Grossman, 10/22/2004

Sermon for Lech Lecha 5765 (2004)

How to Go To War: Lessons from Father Abraham

By Rabbi Susan Grossman
Beth Shalom Congregation
Columbia, Maryland

The Book of Genesis is filled with firsts: the first couple, Adam and Eve, the first murder, Cain slaying Abel, the first Jews, Abraham and Sarah.

Our parsha this morning, Lecha Lecha, introduces us to another first, the first war ever waged in the world: the war of the four Kings of Shinar, Elasar, Elam and Goum who attacked the five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar.

From Cain to Abraham

Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Dear Friends,

I am enclosing an essay that Rabbi Arik Ascherman, director of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel, recently wrote about their experience helping Palestinians whose olive groves had been attacked by settlers. (In a separate post I will send an activity report and overview of their upcoming activities.)

Between the Fires: A Litany of Grief & Hope

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Between the Fires

[For recitation in a ceremony:]

We are the generations that stand
between the fires:
Behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz, from Hiroshima,
and from the burning forests of the Amazon.
Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The flame and smoke that could consume all earth.

It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze
But the light in which we see each other fully.
All of us different, All of us bearing

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