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Lech Lecha and Respect

Compass Rose by Laya Crust

The Torah reading For “Lech Lecha” begins, “Gd said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation’…” (Gen. 12:1)

Three weeks ago we read about the creation of the world and the creation of humanity. There were problems. Adam and Eve, the first people, did not listen to Gd’s instructions and were punished. The first children were Cain and Abel. From feelings of anger, jealousy, and shame Cain killed his brother. The negative behaviours of humanity increased until Gd decided to wash the world clean and start again.

Noah, a righteous man was chosen to restart the community of mankind. But once again murder and disrespect became rampant in the civilization. Rather than destroy the world again Gd chose Abraham and Sarah to become the ancestors of a new and righteous nation.

“Turn your gaze towards the heavens and number the stars. if you can count them. And Gd promised him, and so shall your seed be.” (Genesis 15:5)

In Genesis chapter 13 there is a description of a quarrel between Abraham’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. The men were arguing over the grazing fields for their cattle. The situation could easily have gotten out of hand but Abraham used calm and wisdom to find a solution. “There should be no quarrel between you and me, and your herdsman and mine, for we are close kin. The whole land lies before you! Please, part from me. If you go north I will turn south and if you turn south, I will turn north.” (Gen. 13:8,9)

Abraham was the patriarch and Lot’s uncle. It would have been acceptable for him to choose the best land for himself. Alternatively, there could have been a skirmish over ownership of the grazing lands. Abraham’s approach was an example of insight and sympathy delivered with respect, attributes of a good leader.

In Toronto the week leading up to November 11, Remembrance Day, is Holocaust Education Week. There are hundreds of films, talks and presentations throughout the city and neighbouring communities. Millions and millions of people were exterminated because of horrible arrogance and the lack of respect or acceptance of difference. The presentations address heroism, compassion, anger, and resolution.

The understanding and calm Abraham displayed is a model we can take forward to our interactions. If everyone looked at the person across from him/her and said: “What is on their mind? How can I understand them and communicate my position respectfully?”, maybe strikes, fights, and wars could be avoided.

I guess the lesson we can learn is very basic. Everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own approach. By explaining ourselves and listening to others, problems can be solved respectfully, without anger or bloodshed.

May you have a week of joy, peace and understanding.



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Count the Stars

Lech Lecha sigart by Laya Crust

Lech Lecha- Genesis 12 – 17

We meet Avraham and Sarah after the world was created, destroyed, and then re created. Living in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia they were asked to leave their home and the world as they knew it to establish a new legacy. According to midrash (biblical legend) Avraham was the son of an idol maker. He must have been an intelligent man and a strategic thinker. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps he amassed a great deal of wealth as a shepherd and also successfully led campaigns against enemy forces. Sarah was his partner and equal. She navigated soci0-political waters.  She was able to “read” people and was recognized for her beauty. (Read the amazing adventure of how she left Pharaoh’s palace with her modesty and Avram’s dignity intact- Genesis ch 12 v 11-20).

Avraham was already in his eighties when God told him that they would begin a new nation. “He (God) brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if you are able to number them. And He said to him, “So shall your seed be.” (ch. 15  v.5)   If you have ever been in the desert or in countryside on a cloudless night the sky is unbelievable. The sky is so crowded with stars one wonders how many diamonds can fit up there. And that was God’s promise to this man and woman who traveled the land together and were our first leaders.

Avraham and Sarah were told they would not be able to number their descendants, and look at us now. There are millions of Jews living in Israel and around the world. We have never disappeared. God kept His promise. Our history hasn’t been an easy or pleasant one, but we’re still here! And we have our homeland, Israel.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote a wonderful essay for this difficult time. Here is the link:  https://www.facebook.com/rabbisacks/posts/999081956809626

Let us hope for peace and honesty in the very near future.

Have a Shabbat Shalom,


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