22 Oct Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Lech L’cha
In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Lech Lecha, God first speaks to Avraham and instructs him to “Go forth from your land, your birth place and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” This divine instruction is completely unprecedented, yet doesn’t seem to startle our patriarch. Why does God need to specify each place that Avraham is to leave, and why in this order?
Perhaps in an effort to ease Avraham onto this new journey, he lists the places he is leaving from least to most difficult. Surely our forefather was connected to his land, the place he was born, and his father’s home, but the ties he felt to each place differed. While any kind of move is challenging and stressful, leaving the family he loved and relied upon was most difficult of all. Had God simply directed Avraham to leave his father’s home (which would have encompassed leaving everywhere), it might have been too much for him to bear. Instead, God kindly and compassionately prepares Avraham for what lies ahead by breaking down the departure into three separate leavings.
In this moment, we can identify with both an understanding and compassionate God, and a committed and emotional Avraham. God prepares Avraham for his journey, and Avraham has an opportunity to appreciate the role each place he has lived has played in shaping the person he has become. I pray that as we take our own steps along the various journeys of our lives, that we are able to appreciate and acknowledge the value of each piece along the way.
Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik