In this week’s Torah reading, parshat Lech Lecha, we meet our first generation of ancestors: Abraham and Sarah. We always think of them as the beginnings of Judaism, the ones who followed God into a relationship that changes them, changes their descendants, and changes the world.
What we don’t often emphasize is that the journey to search for something more didn’t begin with Abraham and Sarah, it began with Abraham’s father, Terach. Before reading of the beginning of the Jewish journey, the Torah tells us that a man named Terach took his family, including his son Abraham and daughter-in-law Sarah, and left their home in Chaldean territory. Along the journey, Terach dies, and his family stagnates. They seem paralyzed by the loss of their father and the family journey seems to end just as it has barely begun.
It is then that God speaks to Abraham and prompts him to ‘lech lecha’, ‘journey onward’. It is a Divine prod to continue with the vision and initiative of his father, Terach –to bring the family to new horizons. The relationship that God, Abraham, and Sarah, will form is not the relationship Terach envisioned but it is the continuation of his impulse to search beyond the usual.
The Torah is always full of layers of meaning and timeless messages. Terach changed his family culture and envisioned what could be beyond, but his life ended. If not for God reaching out to Abraham and Sarah, Terach’s vision would have ended as well. The Torah is always full of timeless messages, and in this case, we are shown that the journey of a life takes longer than a lifetime.
I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat –our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.