Abraham is the original immigrant to Israel. His journey is the supreme example of divine calling and the original order to aliyah. It opens, “Lech Lecha, go from your land, your birth-place, your father''s house, to a land that I will show you.” God''s call basically says, ''Leave behind all family and familiarity and take a walk into the utterly unknown.'' 

Abraham''s story models for us our own journeys of setting out on unmapped spiritual paths.  It is a compass for our own travels and travails. For how do we decipher God''s calling voice in our lives? How do we extract a coherent command from the vast amount of ''life material'' that fills our days?

 

 One essential hint offered by the text on how to do this is in the enigmatic first lines and title of the parsha itself – lech lecha. Though it is commonly translated as, “You shall go”, that translation utterly flattens out the poetry of the literal Hebrew. For this terse 2-word mantra Lech Lecha is read literally by the Kabbalists as - “Go to yourself!” And hence the biggest hint for all of us on our spiritual journeys. How to hear and follow God''s command? Pursue your own deepest self! That is the secret gift of the parsha. It points us in the direction of the divine. And, in the end, that directing finger points back to our deepest selves.

The poem below is Abraham''s letter, attempting to explain why he must leave his "father''s house". 

The Letter 

Father, I leave you a letter
about leaving you
as sure as an out-breath
escapes the chest 
that heaves the next inhale

  • for we all have to breathe.

I pray that this meager math 
of words might add up to 
some sum that you can count upon. 

For I have heard a calling, 
two terse words
that disperse even the sturdiest soils
of my place of birth.

They hold for me
an undeniable truth
ineffable 
yet indelible
impossible 
to prove or tell or yell
or weigh its value 
on a merchant''s scale.

With pain and precision I have made this decision - to listen.

As if listening were an art
a compulsion
to record Divine diction 
with all the weight of my earthly limbs.

Your voice 
is so concrete, 
so clear and level, so rational.
While this voice that 
compels me 
- well, its fluid & fanciful
and yet demanding. 

Unpredictable, 
poetic, astounding
pounding proof into sounds

    which make no sound 

    and yet deafen the ears of all around

who listen well to their own 
silence.

A still small voice with an unsettling lisp. 
A voice that to be heard, it must be lived. 

If belief is knowing that there stands a wall 
then faith is leaning on it -
- And so I fall
for the sake 
of this flight of grace.

I lunge in to this journey to an unknown land
God-shown unsewn 


rock-strewn and sand-duned 
so foreign from everything I ever knew.
And so 
unbearably 
far from you. 

If faith is a wall 
then I must lean.
If God is a journey
then I must leave.

 



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