In yuck and muck of daily pronouncements revealing the dark side of our world, what do we do? In ways we hadn't experienced before, we yearn for peace, solace and wisdom. This week's Parsha, Lech L'cha, may offer some help. Lech L'cha can be translated as "go to your self". Perhaps it's saying, "be true to yourself," your inner self.
Abram and Sarai leave their families to pursue their dreams, sharing a vision that would bring blessings to themselves and their descendants. They settle in the Land of Promise. But there is a famine in the Land of Promise and, so, they seek nourishment elsewhere. Abram commits an act of deception to save himself and Sarai. Sarai, a strong woman, confronts the patriarchy and courageously saves herself and her husband.
They return to the Land of Promise where a more mature Abram mediates a solution to the fighting between his and his nephew's shepherds over water-well rights. Abram goes with a small force to rescue his nephew Lot who was captured by local kings. Abram's strength of vision and character results in a peace treaty with another monotheistic leader, MelchiTzedek, which translates as "my king is justice". Back in the Land of Promise, Abram and Sarai, still childless, are given anew the promise of offspring. Sarai, who cannot bear children, in her love for Abram, takes action on the promise by giving Abram her handmaiden, Hagar, to have a child with. Thus, Ishmael is born. Sarai, feeling diminished, expels Hagar. The Covenant with Abram is repeated. God bids Hagar to return, Sarai is promised a child, Isaac, who would maintain the Covenant, while at the same time God reaffirms the blessing with Ishmael and his offspring.
Numerous challenges and tensions move throughout the narrative. Nonetheless, these tensions are reconciled through the actions of the individual players, motivated by the will of the Divine.
We should not despair at the darkness around us or within us. As Abram and Sarai, we must take a stand for what is right and confront the injustices and disharmony we see and experience. And when we do sink to the level of hurting others we must recognize that fault and do what we can to affirm the Covenant of Peace and Loving-kindness that we have been given. BiVrit Shalom, Reb David