Lech Lecha – לך־לך
Genesis 12:1 – 17:27
This is a hard passage. Like so many in Genesis there’s just so much that happens. So much of it I don’t like either. Avram is rewarded for sending Sarai off to the Pharoah’s harem? We don’t really get to hear her opinion of this either. Maybe Sarai thinks it will be a nice break. Maybe she didn’t really understand how beautiful she was. Maybe she was being tested. Maybe it was just the chain of events required for Avram to begin to understand his role in the world.
Avram hasn’t earned all that he’s given in this passage. He gets it because of who he is and nothing more. This reminds me of one of my least favorite expressions, “she doesn’t deserve ….”
This passage tells us Avram deserves riches because he’s holy. Avram is unique. He is a once ever kind of person. But what about now? What about when someone says they “deserve” to live in a nicer neighborhood or drive a better car? Does that mean that there is someone who deserves to live in the ghetto. We often say that someone doesn’t deserve to get sick. Does that mean that someone else does?
Does Sarah deserve to wait until she’s a crone to bear a child? Does Hagar deserve to be cast out? Do Issac and Ishmael deserve to be pawns in a greater scheme?
We all walk the road before us and everything that happens is a result of a myriad of choices. So go out from your father’s house and to the land promised for you. Not everything that happens to us has anything to do with us. Sometimes the rain just doesn’t fall. Sometimes the seeds just fail. But the sun will rise and the sun will set — and we must make choices about what we will do at these moments.
I think that may be the message of Lech-Lecha. Things happen to Avram because of his actions, but not because he always “deserves” things. Sometimes the road before us has strange dips and bumps. Maybe we’re not being punished, but tested. Or maybe what’s happening to us is actually a test for someone else and we’re just a player in a larger story.