We are on a journey right now and here tonight. And this week’s Torah portion—perhaps somewhat presciently— is about our quintessential journey.
God comes to this guy named Avram, who had been just going about his business and then one day, God says to him Lech L’cha, Avram. Lech l’cha meiartz’cha—Go, from your land. U’mimolad’t’cha—from the place of your birth. U’mibeit avicha, from your parent’s house. El ha’aretz asher ar’echa. To the land that I will show you. Lech L’cha. Go.
God taps Avram for this journey. To go and lead and build up the Jewish people. He was the first Hebrew and would give life to a nation, to a people, to a faith, to covenant, to a future that had before not even been imagined or imaginable.
His journey is not without its sadness. See, the Torah rarely speaks in the language of emotion. It doesn’t say—she was excited, he was sad, they were angry. Torah uses other words to express feeling. Here, it is found in a single letter. Mem. A mem before a word translates as “from.” Leave, Avram is told— from your land, from the place you were born, from your parent’s home. This mem amplifies the hard part of Avram’s journey. He steps forward, from what he has always known, how it has always been, what has felt to him like his home.
That is the way of journeys. Even the most impactful ones. Even the most exciting ones. Even the most fruitful and forward-looking ones. They begin somewhere familiar, somewhere that is home.
But the Torah does not keep us in that place long. Because this verse ends with another signifier of emotion. The word “el.” Which means “toward” or “to.” El ha’aretz asher arecha—Go TO the land which I will show you, God says. Avram is not simply leaving. He is journeying toward something. In this case, as perhaps in our case, it will take a bit of a leap of faith to do it. He is to become Avraham—from whom will come descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky—that’s us. He leaves from, but he goes toward. And in his decision to say yes to the moment when he is called—he begins to write the story of our people. A new story which had not been written before. His footprints make the road we walk now. His courage to journey from and his vision to journey toward breathes life into a moment that was ready to be born.
We stand now at the edge of a Lech L’cha moment. There is “what we are leaving from” —for sure. AND, there is a journey “toward something,” toward community and possibility and meaning and hope. A chance to be the authors and architects of what is ahead for our people. Tonight, we, you, will make a decision about what you feel is right and best for our community. And this moment may be hard or sad, but my blessing for us on this night is that we receive the same blessing that Avram does in his moment of decision.
God says to Avram va’avarech’cha…ve’heyey b’racha. I will bless you…. And you will BE a blessing. Union Temple family, as we hear the words lech l’cha calling us forth, may we find the right answer for us in this moment, and may we not just be blessed, but may we BE a blessing. May we make all that we do and become in the hours and days and years ahead of us into something holy. May our very lives bring blessing into this world.