Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,
Parashat Lech Lecha opens with God directing Abram and Sarai (their names had not yet been changed to Abraham and Sarah) to embark on a holy journey from their homeland towards a new land that God would show them (the Land of Israel) and the multi-part blessing they were given as they embarked: "I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those that bless you and curse those who curse you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you."
Abraham, perhaps, has influenced more people than any other (of course, he and his legacy have had 4,000 years of experience!). During their lifetimes, Abraham and Sarah drew large numbers of followers (tens of thousands) through the way they taught and led their lives - quiet honesty, kindness, hospitality, decency, menschlichkeit (being a mensch). When we emulate them and demonstrate these traits, we, too, become a blessing to others and to ourselves.
Parashat Lech Lecha marks the beginning of the relationship between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel as Abraham heeds the call to leave his home (see text above).
Abraham was the ultimate 'non-conformist'; he challenged power and authority and the status quo not for the sake of change alone, but for the sake of a better world defined by loving-kindness; he envisioned what life could be and set out to create that still-dreamed-about but largely unrealized world; he was not afraid to be different from those around him and to speak out for those with no advocate for the sake of the betterment of humanity. No one 'elected him'; he wielded no power other than that which is a demonstration of the best of the human spirit and soul, and a sense of what is just with the courage to act in accordance, aka leadership.
Thank you to the many congregants who participated in our Q and A on Monday evening on responding to questions you are receiving on Israel. I know it is hard, especially when so many (with so many more opinions) may not even know where Israel is located on the map nor aware of the connection between our people and the Land of Israel which is introduced here in Lech Lecha.
The parasha also includes the birth of Ishmael, whose descendants live throughout the Mideast, our ancestral cousins from biblical times about whom Israel’s past President, Reuben Rivlin, once said, with whom we are not doomed, but destined to live together. It is hard to see that today, but remember the Abraham Accords and just three weeks ago how close we were to yet another peace partner, Saudi Arabia (perhaps not out of love but of mutual benefit).
Until October 7th, 18,000 estimated Gazans were crossing the border to work in Israel, mostly in construction related jobs. There were personal friendships and relationships between residents of the southern kibbutzim and individual Gazans; more than one of those kidnapped, with some regularity, drove Gazans to receive medical care in Israeli hospitals.
I know that many of us are feeling shattered, in trauma and in pain. It is common to feel a sense of isolation when we have been abandoned by those whose voices should be speaking up to say what should be straightforward and uncontested: we condemn Hamas and the carnage they inflicted through their terrorist actions. We are in collective mourning even as we do not yet know how this will all conclude. It does not feel as though “all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you," in the face of the atrocities and horror our family is experiencing.
We may again feel powerless, but we are not! We can choose our response. Look at the list of places in Israel that need your help sent out on Tuesday. A friend of CK, Lynn G., authored a letter to the Red Cross asking for their help and demanding that they "do their job”. You can write to your congress people demanding that they support Israel and funding for her needs to persevere in this war. Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are not going after only Israel.
And, be together in community.
Next Friday, November 3rd, we will host a pre-Oneg beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by Kabbalat Shabbat at 6:30 p.m.