Shabbat Lekh-Lekha 5779

When we say at the seder that “My father was a wandering Aramean–Arami oved avi“–we might be referring to our very first father, Avram. At the end of last week’s Torah portion, we met him, and he is almost immediately on the move, leaving Ur of the Chaldeans on his way to Haran. Of course, his travels aren’t done yet; this week’s portion is named for the charge he gets from God: “Lekh-Lekha–get going.”
In conjuction with Avram’s obedience to the call, God makes him several promises: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and it shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will pronounce doom on those who curse you…”(Genesis 12:2-3a). It is logical for God to lay out incentives so that Avram will listen. What are the specific incentives, and why do you think God promised these things as opposed to other potential blessings?
Avram and Sarai are our first ancestors, and they are also our prototype immigrants. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) has designated Shabbat Lekh-Lekha as National Refugee Shabbat. In partnership with HIAS, we will be studying these verses and some of the relevant commentaries on them as part of a lunch and learn on Shabbat morning following services. You may also want to watch this news item from this week, about the question of immigration being personal for members of Temple Beth Torah in Mount Kisco.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise