In Lech Lecha we meet Avram and Sarai, these two individuals who follow God’s command to leave their homeland and go to the land they (hope) they will know. Eventually their names will be change to Avraham and Sarah – each of them taking on a letter from one of the names we hold for the Divine Presence.
Lech Lecha follows immediately on the story of the tower of Babel where the peoples disobey God’s intentions and attempt to build towers into the heavens. In their hubris, wanting to unify and coalesce, rather than disperse through all lands speaking differing languages, they disobey God.
I often think of Avram hearing that commanding voice of God asking him to leave the land of those ziggurats, and think about how we as Jews actually do live across virtually all lands on this. I find myself thinking about how often our voices are seeking different goals – to unify or to dissent. How do we each use our voice – how can a voice seeking unity also honour voices of dissent? Today, with cancel culture, social media peer pressure et al, voices that run counter to the (any) accepted truism can find a door closed in their face. Many people choose to self-censor rather than voice an opinion that is other than the one considered acceptable for the moment.
Where is the balance where we can hear beyond ourselves and our own experiences, and then speak and share with others our own thoughts? Seems to be getting harder and harder. How can we hear the voice of God if we cannot listen to another?
We don’t want to build a tower of Babel – differences and distinctions are essential to our Jewish worldview as we reiterate during Havdalah and beyond. L’havdil we say, acknowledging the very existence of treasured and necessary distinctions. And yet, we are all very alike.
That balance is all found in Lech Lecha, as we go within ourselves seeking the presence of the Eternal One, and then going beyond ourselves as we recognize the Eternal even in those very different from ourselves.
This week, I wish you each the unique and ongoing challenge of lech lecha,Kein yehi ratzon,