D’var by Assistant Director, Rob France
Our election exposed vast differences in how we see our country and the world. It brought to the fore voices that are under-heard in our country, on our television sets, or on our laptop screens – those of non-college educated whites, black communities, Muslim communities, Latino communities, and LGBTQA communities. Regardless of whom you voted for, we all have been witness to the discord in our country. I’m left paralyzed with how to move forward.
This week’s parsha, Lech Lecha, offers some insight. The biblical characters, Abraham and Sarah, faced similar challenges that we encounter. They lived in a time where few people believed in God. Abraham had the courage to see things differently – to remember that there was one God, and to live in unabiding faith.
Abraham’s unabiding faith secured God’s blessing. But, surrounded by people who thought differently than him, with different priorities than his, and with a different way of life than him, we can understand why Abraham would stay at home, wallowing in the challenging times in which he lived. He could have taken his blessing and be comforted in knowing that he was in good hands. And yet, Abraham and Sarah did the exact opposite. They went forth. They traveled and talked to anyone and everyone, regardless of belief. They opened their tent to the stranger. They treated each and every guest with an audacious hospitality. They listened, empathized, questioned, and learned.
Abraham did not receive his blessing because he went forth. He received his blessing, and then went forth, with an unabiding love for God and for all people. The distinction is critical.
As Jews, we are all inheritors of God’s blessing to Abraham. We find ourselves in a similar situation to him – surrounded by those with different narratives, truths, and realities. Our blessing comes with responsibility. We must not hide in our Twitter feeds, in our offices, or within our communities. If we are ever to bridge the chasms that divide us in our country, we must go forth like Abraham, seeking the stranger, loving them, and treating them with an unbridled love and respect.
Shabbat Shalom, and may God bless the Jewish people and America.