PRAYER FOR PEACE – WE STAND WITH ISRAEL
Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Israel, v’imru Amen.
May the One who makes peace above, make peace for us and for all Israel. And we say, Amen.
From Reform Judaism 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 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 Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/lech-lcha
By: Rabbi Kari Tuling
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
We will meet only for Shazoom at 6:30 pm this Friday evening, October 27, 2023. For the next year, we will meet every other Friday for Torah Study to read and discuss selections from Ketuvim, the third section of Tanach (Hebrew Bible), which follows Torah and Nevi’im. Please see the NEW Torah Study-Shazoom schedule below. NEXT week we will start discussing Tehillim (Psalms). You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.12.1-17.27 and the Haftarah 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
Contemporary Reflection – by Ruth H. Sohn, pp. 80-1
IS SARAH PART OF the b’rit (the covenant) that God establishes with Abraham? While our impulse might well be: “How can you ask such a question? Of course Sarah was part of the covenant,” the details of the text force the question upon us. From the opening words calling Abraham to leave his homeland, and throughout this parashah, God speaks directly with Abraham, not with Sarah. Most dramatically, the sign of the b’rit in Genesis 17 is circumcision, clearly a male-only ritual.
One could argue that this ritual established a covenant only between God and Abraham, and Abraham’s male descendants, and that women stood outside this religious cult altogether. Perhaps Sarah and the other matriarchs had their own religious practices and traditions, their own way of relating to God. Or, perhaps, they were passive members of this covenant between God and the men, valued as child-bearers, but otherwise on the periphery.
Let us consider another way to read the text. The critical element of the b’rit is the promise that Abraham will be fruitful and become the father of nations. Women’s role as childbearers is therefore not ancillary but central to meaning of the covenant. And, while God does not address Sarah directly in Genesis 17, God refers to her and changes Sarah’s name just like Abrahams’–with the addition of the letter heh and with a parallel explanation: “she shall give rise to nations; rulers of peoples shall issue from her” (17:16).
Even when Abraham doubts Sarah’s ability to bear children and suggests that God’s covenant continue through Ishmael, God reassures him that the covenant will pass through Sarah’s son, Isaac. Thus, God makes it clear that not all of Abraham’s descendants are part of this covenant, only the ones of Sarah. This underscores Sarah’s crucial role; it makes Sarah and Abraham, physically speaking, equal partners in the covenant.
In a sense, the greatest “sign” of this covenant is the fulfillment of God’s promise that Sarah will bear a child. Sarah’s pregnancy and Isaac’s birth are tangible proof that God fulfills promises–and will similarly fulfill the other promises. Perhaps women after Sarah, as the ones bearing life, carry on the covenant between God and Abraham and Sarah’s descendants in the most basic, physical way. Maybe circumcision is a male ritual to include men in a physical way in the covenant that women make real in their flesh when they bear the next generation.
This view has its own problems. Women of every nation bear children; how can childbearing be an essential characteristic or sign of a particular covenant? And what about women who will not bear children? Are they excluded from the covenant?
We need to look further. Scholars such as Savina Teubal argue that the world described in the Torah was preceded by a matriarchal system in which women held significant power, perhaps as priestesses. The decisive role of the matriarchs in determining the transmission of this male covenant (through Isaac and later Jacob) might be a trace from a time of greater female power (Sarah the Priestess: The First Matriarch of Genesis,1984). Such intriguing possibilities open up different ways of understanding the Torah and our earliest history.
But regardless of its origins, Jews today understand the b’rit to include boys and girls, men and women. Numerous rituals have evolved to welcome baby girls into the covenant. Today, many Jews would not consider not having a b’rit bat ritual to welcome their daughter into the covenant. In some communities, a particular ritual provides the norm. In others, parents decide on the ritual, often together with the rabbi.
One covenant ceremony for girls is a simple foot-washing ritual often referred to as B’rit R’chitzah (the Covenant of Washing) or B’rit N’tilat Raglayim (the Covenant of Washing Feet). This ritual was first imagined into being by a small group of female rabbis and rabbinical students I participated in, at a retreat in Princeton in 1981. Eventually, this group crafted a ritual that continues to be used by individuals and communities in the United States, Israel, and other countries.
This idea–of washing a baby girl’s feet to welcome her into the covenant between the Jewish people and God–grew out of our reading of Genesis 17–18. Immediately after the covenant in Genesis 17, when Abraham is circumcised, Abraham invites three visitors passing by for a meal (18:1–15). He washes their feet, a sign of welcome in his own day. Abraham’s guests, who prove to be God’s messengers, announce the future birth of Isaac.
Abraham’s act of washing his guests’ feet, as a sign of welcome, therefore, is closely associated with the original establishment of the b’rit in Genesis 17. Washing the baby’s feet allows us to introduce water into the ritual, and to make the association with Miriam’s Well, mikveh (ritual bath), and the healing, nurturing power of its mayim chayim (fresh water, literally “living waters”). The ritual includes readings and music that bring out these motifs and involves the parents as well. Usually the formal naming of the baby follows, with blessings over wine, as at a male circumcision. This ritual, simple and gentle, lends itself to individual adaptation and creativity (see “The Covenant of Washing: A Ceremony to Welcome Baby Girls Into the Covenant of Israel,” Menorah, IV/3–4, May 1983).
Was Sarah part of the covenant? For centuries, Jews have looked to Sarah as the first of our foremothers. Women’s tekhines (petitionary prayers) have called upon the God of Sarah, and pleaded in Sarah’s name on women’s behalf. As the covenant continues to be fulfilled by the commitment of every new generation of Jews, the impassioned voices of Jewish women bring forth Sarah’s voice in our own time, with new clarity. Today we can celebrate a rediscovered Sarah as the mother of the covenant we the Jewish people share with God.
Even if b’rit bat rituals have not always been part of Jewish tradition, they are so today. Mothers who were welcomed into the covenant with such ceremonies now perform these same rituals with their own babies. Generations from now, Jews may be surprised to learn that baby girls were not always welcomed into the covenant with a ritual b’rit bat. As contemporary men and women today, we can look forward to seeing such rituals flourish and evolve in the years ahead.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.376
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.
PRAYER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL p.552
O HEAVENLY ONE, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it beneath the wings of your love; spread over it the canopy of Your peace; send Your light and truth to all who lead and advise, guiding them with Your good counsel. Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. 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, 13 Cheshvan through 19 Cheshvan, we lovingly remember:
Husband of Naomi Kaplan
Robert E. Levine
Father of Lisa and Joe Levine
Mother of Cindy Mallitz
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
We will meet ONLY for Shazoom this evening, Friday, October 27, 2023. For the next several months, we will read and discuss selections from Ketuvim, the third section of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). Please see the NEW Torah Study-Shazoom schedule below. NEXT week we will start discussing Tehillim (Psalms).
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.
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Oct 27, 2023 06:30 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 Tehillim (Psalms) and the NEW schedule through December 2023:
From My Jewish Learning
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Encyclopedia Britannica
NEW Schedule for Torah Study and Shazoom (Arizona Time Zone):
October 27, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
November 3, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
November 10, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
November 17, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
November 24, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
December 1, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
December 8, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm [Chanukah 2nd Candle before sundown]
December 15, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm [Chanukah ends]
December 22, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
December 29, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm