By: Rabbi Dubi Avigur
Lech-Lecha, the third Torah portion, planted the common phrase in the Hebrew language: Go, Leave, Get thee out – literally meaning "go for you
There are five topics in this portion:Go away from your country and your homeland; Abram's separation from Lot, his nephew;The covenant of the pieces (Brit Bein HaBetarim); Sarai and Hagar; and the birth of Ishmael and circumcision. The five themes are existential for us Jews, with three of them affecting our daily lives from time immemorial: the promised land, circumcision and the birth of Ishmael, who is the father of the Arab people according to Islam.
The sentence "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee
" (Genesis 12:1) sounds optimistic and promising only when it is in its entirety. On the other hand, the partial use of it "get thee out" is its complete opposite -- an exile without a horizon and without hope. In the same sentence, deportation and hope appear.
Avraham, who was still called Abram at the time, and later on in the portion, after circumcision became Abraham, receives from God the promise and the hope at the same time -- what the future will look like and what his part will be in shaping the face of humanity. In this episode, Abram's human qualities are also revealed.
When he went down into Egypt to purchase food, and he was afraid that he would die when Pharaoh lusted after Sarai, his wife, he decided to lie and say that she was his sister, and he abandoned Sarai in order to save his life. God, coming to his aid, forgave him for the lie, understood his fears, and rescued Sarai from the hands of Pharaoh. Abram and Sarai left there with a large property. "Why saidst thou: She is my sister? so that I took her to be my wife; now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.' And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him; and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all that he had
." (Genesis 12:19-20).
These days, a large number of Israeli residents from the south and the north have been decreed to leave their homes (the numbers speak of 130,000, 200,000 and even more). The decree passed on them is without the finality of the sentence: go away from your homes, and the promise of a future is fragile in time and substance, and must be trusted by those in whom trust has been lost.
The promise given to Abram included the hope, the confidence to improve life and establish a proper society. Our evacuees, mainly from the south, who fled the horrors that befell them due to a serious security and government failure, were scattered everywhere, without promise and without a sign of a better future. They were left in uncertainty, when the state - which had promised them security and peace, a future and hope, which had pledged to take them under its protection, in the time of their disaster, to fulfill its promises and manage the event - evaporated, disappeared. The ministers, who usually pursue power and microphones, disappeared and fell silent.
According to the portion, the Arabs, descendants of Ishmael, are also sons of Abraham. Two Abrahamic religions. The massacre in the kibbutzim and settlements of the south brought the inter-religious, national, racial struggle back into the discourse and brought the concepts of revenge and elimination back into the mainstream. Quotations such as "Such vengeance for blood of babe and maiden Hath yet to be wrought by Satan
" (H.N. Bialik, "On the Slaughter", about the pogrom in the city of Kishinev-Chișinău in 1903) are heard again and again. The calls for revenge, which completely ignore the sanctity of human life, to which the Mishna refers, "Beloved is man for he was created in the image [of God]
" (Mishnah, Avot 3:14), do not distinguish between citizens and fighters, leaders and citizens, men, women, children, babies and the elderly. Just like the abominations of Hamas. The portion is all about humanity and construction, growth and development: "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of
the earth be blessed
" (Genesis 12:2-3).
Where will we turn? Shall we turn to hope, look
ahead with optimism, as the direction of the portion - or look back, to the immoral bloodbath, which will bring with it one more and another in an endless cycle of murder and killing?
We are at the decision point now. Shall we stick to human morality and the order of Lech-Lecha portion, or perhaps, to the animal instinct that precedes all moral laws, human living and the Ten Commandments?
The decision is in our hands, right today.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Rabbi Dubi Avigur
is a secular humanist rabbi, a social activist, living in Rakefet. He is a board member of Rabbis for Human Rights, a board member of Lilach – The Israeli Society to Live and Die With Dignity. A Father of four, grandfather of six, 3 of them and their parents are Gaza evacuees.