Drash on Parashat Lech Lecha 2017

Drash on Parashat Lech Lecha

Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff
Emanuel Synagogue
Woollahra, NSW

Get Out of the Rut, Keep Evolving and Be a Blessing

How many glass ceilings have you set for yourself? 

This week's Torah reading begins with the word lech, ‘go’ or ‘walk’. Sages consider human beings as ‘walkers’, they need to keep moving, improving themselves, evolving, in order to reach their potential. In a way, we are metaphorically like a river, when the water is stagnant it attracts disease, when water is flowing, it is healthy.

The Sefat Emet, a rabbi from 19th Century Eastern Europe, teaches that we always have the opportunity to evolve. We have the ability to change things within ourselves and in our lives. It is the principle of lech, being a ‘walker’.

Just as the morning prayers state that God constantly renews the world each day: mechadesh kol yom tamid, so each person has the opportunity to renew themselves each day.

We have unconscious limitations that have accumulated over the years, and this week we are invited to reflect on them and see if they restrict us from being who we want to be. For example, you might feel that you are not artistic, but you actually love art and would love to explore that possibility. This week is the week to question that limit you have placed on yourself.

Also, ask yourself, what are the subconscious messages I have received from my family – both positive and negative? In the Torah, God says to Abraham – “Go forth…from your ancestral home to the land I will show you.” One of the ways of understanding this instruction, is that Abraham (and each of us) is being asked to consider the messages and habits we have received from our family and to consider which serve us well and which might serve us better if we modified them? What is the “land” that God will show you?

The 13th Century Kabbalistic text, the Zohar, states that lech lecha, is an invitation to contemplate the depths of yourself and find the authentic you, informed (but not controlled) by what others think. This is the level of you that is your essence – it is “the land that God will show you”. Where does your essence what to lead you, and what are the ruts and routines that have kept you stuck?

In the words of Rabbi Moses Zacutto in 18the Century Italy: 

Lech lecha (‘go forth into yourself’) is addressed to every person. You must search and discover the root of your soul, so that you can fulfill it and restore it to its source, its essence. The more you fulfill yourself, the closer you approach God.”

Finally God says to Abraham, “be a blessing” ve-heyeh bracha. The word used for ‘be’ is ve-heye, spelled in Hebrew: V-H-Y-H. . The Hasidic Rebbe, Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, writes that this is significant because the name for God, Y-H-V-H and the word for ‘be’ have the same letters in different order. There is a mystical way of understanding the divine name where Y-H stands for God and V-H for humanity. In this understanding of the divine name, God and humanity are partners in stewarding the earth. 

Thru this evocative use of the name Y-H-V-H, Levi Yizchak teaches that we are called by God to reconfigure reality to such an extent that God’s most sacred name be “misspelled”, with human beings (V-H) preceding God (Y-H). God wants us to take the lead and be active partners in the world.

With the inspiration of this week’s Torah reading, may each of us be even more of a blessing to others, to ourselves and to the world. May we remember that we are always evolving and that change is possible. Ve-heyeh bracha, may you be a blessing.

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