Parashat Lech L’cha, Genesis 12:1 to 17:27

Our Torah portion begins with the essential purpose for which the entire Hebrew Bible was written. It begins to trace the saga of the people of Israel, known as the Hebrews, the people covenanted and contracted to God as His witness-people on this earth. Lech L’cha begins with the story of Abraham and Sarah (first known as Avram and Sarai, the “westerner” and the “princess,”) whose saga travels all the way through to Genesis 25:18. Note that when we meet Avram, he is already a grown

person, living in Haran somewhere in the Euphrates valley (the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia). We gather no details as to his sudden insight about the reality of the one God, and his faith in this invisible presence. But we know from the Midrash that he smashed his father’s idols, and renounced paganism.

This portion is also focused on the the foundations of the divine promises made to Abraham and Sarah, as they receive this momentous covenant, or “contract” with the Almighty, which will endure for all future generations. The three basic promises are: Abraham will become a great nation with a stellar reputation, and be blessed by other peoples. Abraham and his descendants will be given the land of Israel (Canaan) as an eternal inheritance. And the final promise is that Abraham’s progeny will be numberless, meaning they will bring forth generation after generation, and be loyal to this unique covenant.

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