With the election of the new President sitting in uncharted waters last night I gave thought to rewriting my D'var Torah and talking about developments in Palm Beach County. I concluded that my comments tonight, as originally prepared, just might be applicable to post-election matters.
In today's parsha, Lech L'cha, Avram is in the House of his parents in Ur. Adonai Tells Avram to go to the place that Adonai will show him. Avram is to leave his nuclear family, leave the people and the ways he knows, and go. Go where? Avram doesn't know. For what purpose? Avram isn't told. How long will the trip take? Avram has no way to know. What is the path? Avram has no map. His is to be a trip into the unknown. This is the watershed moment in the whole Torah.
At this moment, when Adonai says "Lech L'cha - Go", Avram starts down the path that ultimately will lead to Egypt, to Sinai, to the creation of the Jewish people, and to the founding of three great religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is also the path that leads to Babylonia, to Masada, to the Spanish Inquisition, and to Auchwitz. It is the path that leads each of us to join together in this place and this time.
Later, in the Akeda, the binding of Isaac, Adonai again tells Avram, whose name has been changed to Abraham, "Lech L'cha", take your son Isaac and go to the place that I will show you. Where is that? Abraham will find out later. There Abraham is to sacrifice Isaac, the one who Adonai has promised will be Abraham's heir and the father of many nations. How will that happen if Abraham sacrifices Isaac? There is no answer for Abraham. The promise of Lech L'cha is only that he must go into the unknown to experience what is there. That is most disconcerting, but in truth that is the way life is. There are no guarantees ... ever.
Almost a hundred years ago my grandfather, Morris Schaps, then thirteen years old, and only recently having become Bar Mitzvah, heeded Adonai's words. He left his family in the Jewish Pale and the people and ways he knew there. He came to this country not really knowing where he was going, what he would do here, or how he would get along. He didn't believe that the streets literally were paved with gold and he didn't know what his new life held in store. For him, "Lech L'cha." Eventually he brought his twelve brothers and sisters and their parents to this country. Today I stand here only because my grandfather heeded the words, "Lech L'cha."
Eileen and I are soon to be empty nesters. We are alive, vital and looking ahead. When we stop to listen, we hear the message, "Lech L'cha." Go! How will it be for us? We don't know. There are no guarantees. Still, we must go. "Lech L'cha."
Tonight, our daughter Beth is in California seeking new opportunities in Silicon Valley. Our oldest son Aaron is back from doing research in Cairo and has returned to New York to complete his dissertation. Middle son Jonathan is at home in Minnesota. "Lech L'cha." Joel, our youngest, is a senior in high school. He is planning to leave our house for college next August. He really isn't sure what he will do with his life or where he will do it. He doesn't know how he will find out. That is the way of Adonai's world. "Lech L'cha."
Earlier this year our first grandchild, Elijah, was born. His parents aren't thinking about it yet and he is much too young to understand, but ever so quietly, Adonai is whispering to him, "Lech L'cha." The time will come to leave your parents and their house. Be prepared for the path I will show you. Go! Go where? When? How will Elijah know? How will he know the right place? Will the trail be marked? What lies along the way? No answers for Elijah, no expectation that he ever will be provided with answers. For him there is only the promise that this is what Adonai has in store for him. There is only the eventual understanding that Elijah is precious in Adonai's eyes and that Elijah will have to follow his own way. He is only seven months old. "Lech L'cha."
Listen! Tonight, Adonai is telling each of us the same thing first told to Abraham. Whatever our age. Whatever our station in life. "Lech L'cha." GO!
There are no promises about what lies ahead. No guarantees. No certainty. No way to know. No way to find out. No way to predict the future. There is only a journey into the unknowable tomorrow and the knowledge that this is the way of Adonai's world.
Put your trust in Adonai. "Lech L'cha." Go to the place that Adonai will show you, that Adonai will show each of us! Blessed is Adonai.