A lot is awry at the moment: political violence in America, white nationalists in the streets, and a general feeling of unease as 5783 kicks off with a renewed sense of dread and antisemitism. A recap of October.
021: Lech Lecha, A Song, and Blessing the World
The weekly Torah portion – in Hebrew the parshah – for November 9 was the Lech Lecha about the formation of the Jewish people. It’s the story of Abraham and Sarah leaving their home and starting over, trusting despite huge doubt, and going into the great wide open. It was also the first Saturday morning service at Nefesh, a beautiful coincidence because of this song.
So it was a great time to record Run From Your Father’s House from the Transparent musicale finale. I adore this music and its creators and the songwriter, Faith, played it on Yom Kippur at Nefesh. Magic.
That Shabbat morning (November 9) we broke out into groups to talk about the meaning of the text. What does it mean that the whole world will bless themselves by you? Some said it means to do good in the world, that the laws and traditions that would arise from Judaism would spread the whole world over. I also take it to mean it was G-d saying: You’re establishing a tribe that will grow so that not only will those descendants be your blessing and they be blessed by your gift of life, but the other Abrahamic traditions will bless themselves by this teaching, too. Perhaps they read it and did so when they branched from Judaism to form Christianity and Islam: We are all descended from this moment, this covenant, and this moral framework.
“The whole world” in that case means pretty most everybody. Billions of people call Abraham either a literal or spiritual forefather.
Venturing out is scary. I never before now took much stock in Torah or religion but this one sits with me. Trust in something bigger and good things will flow. I’m already feeling that. It helps that Lech Lecha is a swift kick in the butt; it translates to an emphatic “Go!”, the original GTFO. That service and parshah also coincided with an incident involving my parents’ house they recently parted with, the beautiful retreat I thought was finally their forever home. I pictured bringing my children there someday. I still have my parents, but children aren’t any closer and that magical place is but a memory. Run from your father’s house.
The Torah passage soon after the Lech Lecha is about handmaids so if one wanted to say, launch a violent sexist coup amid a fertility crisis, one could misread Genesis as saying you can’t bless the world (or be blessed) without procreating.
Lech Lecha, A Song, and Blessing the World
- My Jewish Learning video and article
- Lech Lecha: A Call for Unity
- Traveling Down the Road That Helps You Find Yourself
- The ‘Transparent’ Musical Finale: Terminally Jewish And Endearingly Hard To Watch