Choose Shabbat: Lech Lecha
When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned about Parashat Lech Lecha, the third weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. The words Lech Lecha can be loosely translated as, “Go Out”, “Leave” or “Get Out You”; a command from G-d addressed to Avram and Sarai who at the time were residents of Ur Kasdim in Mesopatamia( Iraq).
According to Wikipedia,, Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1 through 17:27) contains a total of 6,336 Hebrew letters, 1,686 words, 126 verses and 208 lines of the Torah Scroll. This week’s Torah reading includes many moving parts; G-d’s calling of Avram, Avram’s passing off his wife Sarai as his sister and dividing the land with his nephew Lot, Sara’s tensions with her maid Hagar and Hagar’s son Ishmael and the covenant of circumcision (brit milah), to name a few. In the Torah portion, G-D makes a covenant with Avram promising to make his descendant’s a great nation and changes Avram’s name to Abraham, who has a child with Hagar and names him Ishmael. G-d them promises Abraham’s barren wife, Sarah, that she will have a child.
Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Lech Lecha:
It is never easy to leave home and one’s comfort zone, even temporarily. What G-d commands to Avram and Sarai is more than that. The world is filled with idol worshipers and G-d is sending them on a mission to realign everyone and shed this belief. I often ask myself, when we come to this juncture in Torah, if G-d came to us in a vision, would we have the courage and strength of belief to follow it?
Many times, we have been tested, in the communities where we lived, to represent by action and words, the faith that we represent. We have reached out to our non-Jewish neighbors in their times of need to try and be there for them when they are sick or bereaved. At the same time, we would never belittle or mock their beliefs and religious practices out of courtesy and respect. It is much easier to live surrounded by those who share our traditions, but, it is much more difficult to live a truly Jewish life surrounded by those who don’t. I am often reminded of Mayna’s Uncle and Aunt who moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and raised their children in this environment, sometimes facing prejudice and ridicule. All but one of their 5 children today live Jewish lives and are proud Jews who take every opportunity to live their Jewishness. (Alas! One recently passed away who was president of the Reformed Jewish Temple in Pittsfield, Massachusetts).
The Lesson of Avram and Sari teach us that it is possible to live outside of Israel and even in predominantly non-Jewish locations and still preserve our faith and traditions. We must have the faith and courage that these traditions are important to us and serve as examples to our non-Jewish neighbors that our way of life endures and provides direction and meaningfulness throughout our lives.
Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.
Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.
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