From Mishkan T’filah – A Reform Siddur p. 516
FOR OUR COUNTRY
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/lech-lcha
Lech L’cha (לָךְ-לְךָ – Go Forth) – Genesis 12:1-17:27
The Eternal said to Abram, “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1
- Abram, Sarai, and Lot go to Canaan. (12:1-9)
- Famine takes them to Egypt, where Abram identifies Sarai as his sister in order to save his life. (12:10-20)
- Abram and Lot separate. Lot is taken captive, and Abram rescues him. (13:1-14:24)
- Abram has a son, Ishmael, with his Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. (16:1-16)
- God establishes a covenant with Abram. The sign of this covenant is circumcision on the eighth day following a male baby’s birth. (17:1-27)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lech-Lecha
Some commentators, including Rashi, interpret the verses in Isaiah 41:1–4 as referring to the Battle of Siddim described in this parshah. Rashi interprets subsequent verses as referring to either the nations’ reactions to this battle or the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek, leading into God’s promise to always aid “the seed of Abraham, who loved Me.”
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lech-Lecha
Lech-Lecha – Gen. 14:1-15:21 [triennial part]
(לֶךְ-לְךָ — Hebrew for “go!” or “leave!”, literally “go for you”.)
The [complete] parashah tells the stories of God’s calling of Abram (who would become Abraham), Abram’s passing off his wife Sarai as his sister, Abram’s dividing the land with his nephew Lot, the war between the four kings and the five, the covenant between the [sacrificial] pieces, Sarai’s tensions with her maid Hagar and Hagar’s son Ishmael, and the covenant of circumcision (בְּרִית מִילָה, brit milah).
The triennial part of Parasha Lech-Lecha – Gen. 14:1-15:21, tells of the battles between various kings that takes place at Siddim (now the Dead Sea), with Abram’s nephew Lot and his goods being captured. Abram takes men with him and pursues the invaders, defeats them and brings back all the people including Lot and all their possessions. The king of Sodom meets Abram. King Melchizedek (King of Righteousness in Hebrew) of Salem (Jerusalem), a priest of God Most High (El Elyon), brings him bread and wine, and blesses Abram who gives him tithes.
The king of Sodom offers to let Abram keep all the possessions if only he returns the people. But Abram swore to God Most High not to take anything from Sodom except for the shares due to the men who went with him. Some time later, God appears to Abram and promises that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars; because he put his trust in God, God reckoned it to his merit.
God directs Abram to prepare an offering and he falls into a deep sleep. God tells him that his offspring will be strangers in a foreign land but in the end go free with great wealth. A smoking oven appears and a flaming torch, which passes between the pieces of the offering. God makes a covenant with Abram to assign his offspring the land from the “river of Egypt to the Euphrates” and all the land of the tribes in between.
The 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza noted that Genesis 14:14 reports that Abraham “pursued as far as Dan,” using a name that Joshua 19:47 indicates was not given to the city until after the death of Moses. Spinoza cited this as evidence that Moses did not write the Torah, but someone who lived long after him.
Gary A. Rendsburg, professor of biblical studies, Hebrew language and ancient Judaism at Rutgers University, argued that the empire of David and Solomon provided the setting for the statement in Genesis 15:18 that God gave to Abraham and his descendants “this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” Rendsburg reasoned that this passage makes sense only in the period of David and Solomon, as before David and Solomon, it would have been unimaginable for an author to use these boundaries to define the Land of Israel, and after David and Solomon, Israel once more became a small state and those boundaries were an impossibility. Rendsburg cited this as further support for his conclusion that royal scribes living in Jerusalem during the reigns of David and Solomon in the tenth century BCE were responsible for Genesis.
At the Temple Sinai Tuesday Morning Minyan, the darshan (דַּרְשָׁן or דַּרְשָׁנִית – Hebrew for “deliverer of the d’rash”) asked “Why did God choose Abram?” Unlike with Noah and Moses later, Torah says extraordinarily little about Abram beforehand, although his genealogy is given toward the end. Abram is shown as a proselytizer and monotheist.
The Mishna and various commentators have much more to say about Abram, his character and why God chose him. Abram is described as highly intelligent, kind, asked questions, looked for more logical explanations, and willing to argue with God. Several midrashim (commentaries) are relayed about him including Abram destroying his father Terach’s idols for sale and a subsequent trial by fire ordered by King Nimrod.
There is a Sefardic song in Judeo-Spanish titled “Kuando el Rey Nimrod” (When King Nimrod) which relates Abram’s birth and some of the legends about him found in the Mishna, Midrashim and other sources. It was most likely composed in the 18th Century by an anonymous author(s) in the former Ottoman Empire. The song is often sung at a B’rit Milah (בְּרִית מִילָה – Hebrew for “covenant of circumcision”) and is a popular piece among singers of songs in Ladino.
A word about circumcision from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brit_milah In the mid-2nd century [CE], Rabbinical Jewish leaders, the successors of the newly ideologically dominant Pharisees, introduced and made mandatory a radical method of circumcision known as the Brit Periah. Without it, circumcision was newly declared to have no spiritual value. This new form [was far more extensive than previously practiced since second temple times, which simply involved a nick or cut to the foreskin.] It was intended to make it almost impossible to restore the foreskin. This is the form practiced among the large majority of Jews today, and, later, became the basis for the routine neonatal circumcisions performed in the United States and other countries.
Finally, the darshan also asked, “Why Lot?” And why did God repeat the promise made to Abram four times and then again several times later to his sons? In the next two parashot we learn more about Abram renamed Abraham and his wife Sarai who is renamed Sarah. In the meantime, the question applies to each of us as well. May we respond like Abraham, “hinëni”, (הִנֵּנִי – Hebrew for “here I am” – Gen. 22:1.)
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, October 30, 2020.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study
Time: Oct 30, 2020 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Oct 30, 2020 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]:
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
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Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community) – even virtually.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!