Monday, October 28, 2013

Pick a Parasha: Lech Lecha Discussion

Back on October 1st I challenged everyone to join in our effort to read more of the Torah with Pick a Parasha.  Here we are to discuss the Parasha from October:  Lech Lecha.

Most of the commentaries about Lech Lecha focus on a few things.   That Abram left when G-d told him to, leaving behind his world, and how we should take the leap of faith.  That we have a 'go forth' moment, to move beyond and above.  Others focus on the story of Sarai and Hagar- choices Sarai makes when struggling with fertility.  Lots call attention to the name changing of Abram to Abraham, and the words of the covenant.  But as a new mom, I read something different.

When G-d tells Abram to leave his home things are looking pretty good.  He's married, 75 years old, and G-d tells him that everything is going to be alright.  Actually, more than alright- things are going to be absolutely fantastic:
"I will make your name great,
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you
And curse him that curses you;"
If only we had such assurances that our children would be so well looked after when they leave our homes. He left his father's home married at age 75, which is a great many years.  Unfortunately it's not so easy for us.  We have no idea what will happen to our children when they leave our homes, where they will travel, who they will meet, and what choices they will make.  Rarely here in America do they leave married, though sometimes they do.  He left after more years then you or I can even reasonably expect to know our children, forget about how long they live at home!

When we follow along in Abram's story we see that he traveled here and there, and then goes to Egypt.  Where he lies.  A bold-faced lie.  He turns his wife into his sister. The father of our nation, and the first thing he really does on his G-d directed journey is tell a lie to the Pharoah. 

And he profits from this lie.  He profits big!  With cows, sheep, etc.  He lets Pharoah take Sarai as a wife in order to gain favor and $.  He's the first pimp in the Torah!  Thankfully G-d intervenes, and Sarai is returned to Abram and they depart.

I haven't been able to find much commentary on this particular point, but it sticks with me as an interesting message for us parents.  (I tried! Nothing here, or here, or hereHere they say he just doesn't lie!?  I did find other woman (a mother!) and one commentator trying to piece together thoughts.)

No, I'm not being factious. The message I see is two fold.  First, that you have to let go, regardless of your own fears.  The fact that everyone has to "go to yourself" at some point. Abram had the best of all possible situations.  G-d told him directly that he would bless him, and curse those who curse him.  We couldn't have asked for more to send our children off with.  But Abram still makes bad choices.  Choices that we probably don't support, or understand.

The second message is one about our response. What does G-d do?  Does he punish Abram or turn his back on him? 

He intervenes.  He sends plagues and strife on Pharaoh's house and Pharaoh learns that Sarai is Abram's wife.  Not only does G-d not turn his back, but Abram is embraced, and the end of the portion is the covenant of Abraham with G-d. 

Our children will leave our homes.  They will go forth, and we have to wait and watch and be like G-d is with Abram.  Sometimes we will need to step in, but we must also allow our children to make their own choices, even when there are great risks.  We must understand that they get to make mistakes as much as we get to, and that we are the net they can fall back on when they need to.

We can't always intervene to the way G-d does for Abram, but we can always be there for our children to turn to.  Though they must 'go forth' we can still be their champions.

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