Parasah Lekh Lekha

What fascinates me about this week’s ParashahLekh Lekha is the motif of journeys undertaken by Avram (he’s not yet called Abraham at this point in our Torah) that are simultaneously physical and spiritual. Crossing the Euphrates is one way of cutting himself off from a pagan past; the ritual of brit milah, circumcision, with which the parashah concludes, is another way. Like a candidate crossing the country, Avram passes from place to place, apparently collecting spiritual energies wherever he travels to give him power to achieve his potential as the "father of many nations" and the “source of blessing” to all families of the earth. (Yes, there is a parallel to a politician traveling strenuously from place to place and then finally arriving in a location where he or she can reach out to all families of his land.)

One passage that draws my eye is at the beginning of chapter 13:2-4. Heavy with cattle, silver, and gold, Avram begins his journeys, from Negev to Beit El, "to the place where his tent had been formerly... the site of the altar that he made there at first, and Avram invoked the Lord by name YHVH[i]."  In the Zohar, this journey is about linking different qualities of God.  Avram is associated with the quality of chesed[ii], loving kindness. So this verse means that he journeyed from chesed to Beit El, "house of God." The Zohar identifies this with the Shekhinah, the Divine presence of God, —as the final part, it is the receptacle, or "house" of God.  For the Zohar, Avram's journey is dedicated to linking his personal quality of chesed with the more universal and accessible divine quality of Shekhinah.

That might be a bit esoteric, but it comes to this: Avram has a spiritual gift that allows him to enter into a relationship with God. But his even greater gift is the ability to convey to others access to this covenant or relationship. He is a spiritual guide, a molder of souls, truly our spiritual father. He is also a personal example--each of us also has certain spiritual gifts that can draw us closer to God. How can we connect these gifts to those of other people, so that our tent or dwelling becomes the tent of YHVH? 

On this Shabbat of Lekh Lekha, I ask that we each consider our personal journey, recognize the spiritual powers with which it has endowed us, and consider how better to call out in the name of YHVH, bringing the blessing of the Divine presence to all around us.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham

[i] Even to this day, the ineffable name of God is not pronounced in Hebrew.  It has become so ingrained that as soon as one sees it, they instantly think Adonai or Hashem.

[ii] Each of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs are identified with their attribute that exemplifies them.  Abraham is the first and as we come to them, we will address them and their characteristics.  They are:

Abraham               Chesed                   Loving-kindness

Isaac                      Gevurah                Might-Judgment

Jacob                     Tiferet                    Beauty-Harmony

Moses                    Netzach                 Triumph-Eternity

Aaron                     Hod                        Majesty

Joseph                    Yesod                     Foundation

David                     Malchut                 Kingdom

Ruth                       Chesed                   Love

Sarah                     Gevurah                Judgment

Rivkah                   Tiferet                    Beauty

Devorah                Hod                        Majesty

Tamar                    Yesod                     Foundation

Rachel                   Malkhut                Kingdom