November 9, 2019 - Cheshvan 11, 5780
Lech Lecha: "Go Out"
Torah: Genesis 12:1-17:27
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit Chadashah (New Testament): Romans 4:1-25
Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream?
The Torah portion this week is called "Lech Lecha," which means "get out," [of your father's house]. There is high drama taking place here and we need to use our imagination to appreciate it. Here we see Abraham, a seventy-five-year old man, and his wife Sarai [a mere 65] planning a move with their extended family plus their servants and livestock, going to an unknown destination. G-d’s instructions were simply, "Go to the land that I will show you."
Abraham acts with remarkable faith and courage. Most of us would have a hard time responding like he did. It is much more natural to respond like Gideon did: "L-rd, I think it is You speaking, but just to make sure, please make the ground wet and my coat on it dry," [my paraphrase]; the L-rd graciously complies and yet we say, "L-rd, please don't get mad, but, this time make my coat wet and the ground around it dry. Then I'll know that it is You speaking." Gideon's example is an extreme example of skepticism and not exactly a bold statement of faith.
Yet, especially in our day and age, with lots of voices claiming to represent the L-rd, some skepticism is warranted—not to doubt the L-rd, but to ask for confirmation. It is easy to change faith to presumption—what we would like for the L-rd to have said. So, let's learn to wait on the L-rd—with a heart that is willing to follow Him, but with the mature wisdom to wait for a clear "This is what I, the L-rd, am saying." Making sure that we have heard the L-rd's voice is crucial, because often when we step out in faith, we experience what Abraham experienced. Shortly after Abraham came to Canaan (Genesis 12:10), a severe famine broke out and it was so severe that Abraham had to uproot his family and head to Egypt. That seems like such a fine beginning, doesn’t it? It is quite understandable that Abraham slipped into the flesh at this point and lied about Sarai (12:11-13).
It is easy to lose heart, just like Israel did in Isaiah 40:27. The prophet Isaiah challenged Israel to depend on the L-rd for strength. As He sustained the patriarch Abraham, and gave him victory, He would do the same for them and for us. Our challenge is not to climb every mountain, but only those that the
L-rd instructed us to climb; an even greater challenge is to learn to receive from the L-rd the strength and resources that we need for that climb...