Gisel Baler – Senior Sermon (RS ’24)

Gisel Baler – Senior Sermon (RS ’24)

Oct 25, 2023 By JTS Senior Sermon | Commentary | Senior Sermon | Short Video | Lekh Lekha

Parshat Lekh Lekha All the Class of 2024 Senior Sermons

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What Should We Call Our First Foremother?

What Should We Call Our First Foremother?

Oct 27, 2023 By Sass Brown | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

Twice in this week’s parashah our first foremother’s name is disrupted. First, when she is abducted into Pharaoh’s household in Egypt, she seems to lose her name entirely. Then, in the concluding chapter, God changes her name while she is off screen. In both moments of unnaming, Sarai is voiceless. In both, Avraham receives something grand—a gift, a covenant—while Sarai is elsewhere. Given how similar these two events are for Sarai, it feels like they are asking to be compared. On the other hand, one is an interpersonal episode of a woman suffering while her husband thrives, and the other is the initiation of Avraham’s covenant. Can the mistakes Avraham made in Egypt shed light on the holy charge he receives in the conclusion of Parashat Lekh Lekha? 

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Learning as a Lifelong Experience

Learning as a Lifelong Experience

Nov 4, 2022 By Edward L. Greenstein | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

An attentive reading of the Torah and of Parashat Lekh Lekha in particular leads to a very different understanding. Abraham was a learner—he needed to grow in his trust of the Deity, and in himself. In this sense, Abraham’s career models the path of a lifelong learner.

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Was Avram a Second Language Learner?

Was Avram a Second Language Learner?

Oct 15, 2021 By Avi Garelick | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

At the conclusion of Chapter 11 of Sefer Bereishit, the peoples of the world are divided by Divine command into distinct groups with mutually incomprehensible languages. This tale of the Tower of Babel accounts for the fundamental question of why human beings can be so different from each other while coming from the same source. It also sets the stage for what follows: a freshly divided world, with the inability to communicate as a driving force of division.

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A Single Star: Sarah’s Journey

A Single Star: Sarah’s Journey

Oct 30, 2020 By Maya Zinkow | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

“I know this is not fun to hear on a Wednesday afternoon, but I would really look into getting fertility tests if I were you.” The harrowing text message from my sister came as I was waiting to hear back from her and my sister-in-law about their most recent cycle of egg retrieval and genetic testing. It was her way of telling me that once again, they received news that their journey to parenthood would not be a simple one. But it was also her way of reminding me that our expectations about our bodies, so deeply ingrained in us from a young age, often do not come to fruition in the ways we expect them to.

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Go Forth: The Grammar of Remembrance

Go Forth: The Grammar of Remembrance

Nov 4, 2019 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

Jewish destiny begins with “Lekh-lekha,” “Go forth.” It marks the beginning of our journey through covenantal space; the beginning of our obligations under the terms of the covenant; the beginning of our family romance, so fraught with jealousy and betrayal; and the beginning of our ongoing dialogue with God. God speaks to Abram seven times in the parashah, tracking his every move, until, having reached the age of 99, Abram is addressed for the first time by his new covenantal name of “Avraham.” God speaks to him both oracularly, in verse, and in simple prose; both by day and by night: sometimes in a state of wakefulness and sometimes in a vision.

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Abram the Hebrew

Abram the Hebrew

Oct 19, 2018 By Jonathan Sarna | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

“I believe we have not yet appointed a Hebrew,” President Abraham Lincoln wrote on November 4, 1862, to his secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, amidst the Civil War. Partly to rectify that imbalance, he agreed to appoint Cheme (Cherie) Moise Levy, the son-in-law of Rabbi Morris J. Raphall of New York’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, to be an assistant quarter-master with the rank of captain. This may have been the first example of “affirmative action” in all of American Jewish history.

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Land and People—When Things Get Real

Land and People—When Things Get Real

Oct 27, 2017 By Hillel Gruenberg | Commentary | Lekh Lekha

Lekh Lekha is one of my favorite parashiyot because it marks the entrance of the biblical narrative “into history.” Putting aside the historicity of the Bible—the subject of no small scholarly debate—Lekh Lekha departs from the preceding biblical text as it introduces us to the lands, people, and civilizations that will serve as a backdrop for the millennia of triumph and tribulation that await Abraham, his descendants, and their contemporaries. Until now, the story has been fundamentally supernatural and ahistorical—the creation of the world and all that is in it, heavenly gifts and divine punishment, a cataclysmic flood, and extensive genealogies of the forebears of future nations, whose lifespans number in the hundreds of years.

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