TORAH READING FOR 11 CHESHVAN 5783 Nov 4-5, 2022
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)
Isaiah 40:27-41:16 [attributed to Deutero- or Second Isaiah]
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.”
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/lech-lcha
By: Rabbi Stacy Rigler
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Genesis that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) following this portion. This week we focus on Isaiah 41:8-16. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.12.1-17.27, and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.40.27-41.16
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
לך לך Lech L’cha – Genesis 12:1–17:27
Covenantal Promise and Cultural Self-Definition by Susan Niditch, p. 59
PARASHAT LECH L’CHA (“Go forth!”) is about relationships: relationships between God and Israel, relationships among the Israelites, and relationships between Israelites and non-Israelites. The question “Who are we?”–which the first part of Genesis answered in universal terms–now begins to be explored by focusing on one family, the subject of the rest of the Torah.
The ideas are expressed in traditional biblical forms, such as scenes of covenant-making (Genesis 15 and 17); the annunciation to the mother of a future hero (Genesis 16); and the story of the patriarch who tells the foreign ruler that his wife is his sister (12:10–13; a version of such a story recurs in Genesis 20:1–18 and again in 26:1–16). All of these tales contribute to Israelite “founding myths,” that is, stories of the people’s origins, and to the process of self-definition.
As for its gender orientation, on one hand this parashah seems strongly androcentric. Divine conversation is primarily with Abraham, the patriarch. He is the party to the important scenes of covenant-making so central to the people’s identity. Only males can undergo circumcision, the sign of the covenant with God. Much of the parashah’s interest is in the birth of male children who will carry on the line of the patriarch and fulfill divine promises.
On the other hand, the women featured in this parashah, Sarah and Hagar, exhibit a power in the household that is also critical to the identity and development of the people. It is the barren woman–Sarah–who must bear the child in Abraham’s line. The difficulty with which such women conceive further marks their sons’ importance. Sarah is Abraham’s co-trickster in Genesis 12, where he enlists her help in deceiving Pharaoh, thereby saving his life and improving his lot. Sarah, like Abraham, undergoes a name change marking her participation in God’s covenant.
Women are portrayed as essential for men’s livelihood and for procreation, and also as keepers of their children’s futures. To be sure, such roles are circumscribed and betoken a world politically dominated by men, but women do have important roles to play within the contours of this system. The tale of Hagar in Genesis 16 is particularly interesting in this respect….
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Dvora E. Weisberg, pp. 78-79
“I will make your name great” (12:2). Some midrashim describe the matriarchs as equal partners in God’s covenant with Israel. Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 39.11 reports that “Abraham’s coinage was widely distributed…. And what was on his coinage? An old man and an old woman (Abraham and Sarah) on one side, and a young man and a young woman (Isaac and Rebekah) on the other.” This midrash also explained the repeated use of the words for “greatness” and “blessing”: “greatness” refers to the patriarchs and “blessing” to the matriarchs.
and the people [nefesh] they had acquired [asu, literally “made”] in Haran (12:5). According to B’reishit Rabbah 39.14, Sarah was an active agent of God’s work in the world even when she and Abraham were still in Haran. Commenting on the literal sense, Rabbi Eleazar said in the name of Rabbi Yosi ben Zimra: “If all the inhabitants of the world got together to create [a living being], they would be unable to animate even a mosquito, but the Torah says the people they had made! These are the proselytes they converted.” [The Midrash then asks:] If the verse refers to conversion, why does it employ the verb “made”? To teach you that when a person converts another, it is as if the one created the other. [The Midrash then points out a problem:] It should say, he had made–why does it say, they had made? Rav Huna said: “Abraham converted men and Sarah converted women.”
יהוה then struck Pharaoh and his household with severe afflictions because of Sarai, Abram’s wife (12:17). B’reishit Rabbah 41.2 imagines that when Sarai was trapped in Pharaoh’s house, she prostrated herself “and said, ‘Ruler of the Universe, Abram left [Haran] on the strength of promises, and I left on the strength of my faith. Now, Abram is outside this prison and I am inside!’ The blessed Holy One said, ‘All that I do, I do for you.’” This midrash suggests that Sarai’s belief that she would share in Abram’s blessings was called into question when she was trapped in Pharaoh’s house while Abram walked free; however, she is reassured that it is precisely because of Sarai, Abram’s wife, that Pharaoh is punished. Even more remarkably, Sarai reminds God that her willingness to leave Haran for an unknown destination is more praiseworthy than Abram’s precisely because God has promised her nothing. Sarai serves here as a paradigm of a faithful follower of God, one who responds to God’s call without the promise of reward.
Now Abram’s wife Sarai, who had not borne him a child, had an Egyptian slave named Hagar (16:1). The Rabbis gave Hagar an exalted lineage, identifying her as the daughter of Pharaoh. This tradition underscores Sarai’s piety since it claims that when Pharaoh sees the wonders performed on her behalf, he exclaims, “Better my daughter be a servant in this household than mistress in another”; and later on Sarai gives Hagar to Abram as a second wife, not as a concubine (B’reishit Rabbah 45.1). She also encourages Hagar to have sexual relations with Abram by emphasizing her husband’s holiness (B’reishit Rabbah 45.3). According to B’reishit Rabbah 45.2, Sarai’s decision that Abram should take Hagar as a wife is seen as an instance of her prophetic powers.
Still, the Rabbis are troubled by both Hagar’s and Sarah’s behavior. B’reishit Rabbah 45.4 relates that once Hagar became pregnant, she told other women that Sarah was clearly not the righteous woman she pretended to be, as evidenced by her infertility. Sarah, in turn, is criticized for harassing Hagar and for forcing Abraham to mediate between his wife and the mother of his unborn child (B’reishit Rabbah 45.5–6). While Hagar is criticized for treating her mistress disrespectfully, she is also worthy of divine protection. Five of God’s messengers appear to Hagar as she flees Sarah’s anger (B’reishit Rabbah 45.7). In naming God as the One who looks upon me (16:13), Hagar recognizes God as the One who sees the pain of the injured.
“Sarai your wife–call her Sarai no more, for her name is [now] Sarah” (17:15). B’reishit Rabbah 47.1 argues that Abraham and Sarah’s relationship was unique. Rabbi Aha claims, “Abraham was crowned by Sarah rather than the reverse…. In most marriages, the husband commands, but in this case, God tells Abraham to obey all of Sarah’s directives.” At the age of ninety, Sarah is blessed with fertility–and, according to one tradition, God restored her youthful appearance (B’reishit Rabbah 47.2).
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
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.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; 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, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, the 11th of Cheshvan through the 17th of Cheshvan, we lovingly remember:
Assassinated Israeli Prime Minister
Ellen Wiener Horczak-Winslow
Relative of Keren Ginsburg
Mother of Renee, wife of Jack
Friend of Jane Kolber
Robert E. Levine
Father of Lisa and Joe Levine
Husband of Naomi Kaplan
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“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, November 4, 2022. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Isaiah 41:8-16
Time: Nov 4, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Nov 4, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About the Book of Isaiah and Timelines:
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia