I am very excited to share with you thoughts about perhaps my very favorite portion in the Torah, Lech L’cha. No matter what is going on in our lives, we can almost always find correlations with characters in this story, namely Abraham. Lech L’cha literally means, “go for yourself.” God calls Abraham to not only go out from his homeland, but to also go for himself to find a new way of living and being. God calls him to adopt a personal God, to worship only God. In return, God promises to bless Abraham and make of him a great nation. Quite a tall order. Imagine being asked to totally give up everything you know, your entire way of life, for a great unknown.  

The great Biblical scholar Rashi interprets Lech L’cha literally as “go to yourself” or “go for yourself.” In this case, Avram (who we know today as Abraham), is standing in a liminal space, having uprooted his family from everything they knew, and facing an incredibly uncertain future. As we read in Gen. 12:1—Go for yourself, to a land that I will show you, we see that Avram was seeking to find his best, most authentic, true self, and had the courage to leave everything he knew in order to do so. A 17th Century Italian Kabbalist believes that this verse is not just singularly addressed to Avram, but rather to every human being. “Search and discover the root of your soul, so that you can fulfill it and restore it to its source, its essence. The more you fulfill yourself, the closer you approach your authentic self. This is the sense of ‘know yourself’: to know your very self so that you can rectify yourself – and I will help you.” 

Today, we as a society are facing our own Lech L’cha moments. Our national and state leaders are choosing paths in which many people staunchly disagree, and feel great discomfort. However, I would like to point out a particular instance years ago when we as a nation were also facing a Lech L’cha moment. At the time, we had a president who often made decisions that many despised, yet in this pivotal instance, he actually chose to work hard to create and repair an awareness and acceptance of members of society with disabilities. For decades of my life, I witnessed these individuals being made to feel less than, unable to participate in society, being made fun of, just for simply being their true, authentic selves. Our nephew (my brother J.T.’s son, now 17) Wyatt, has autism. Just decades ago, I watched him suffer and become victim to the many bureaucracies in schools and other organizations which did not prioritize his care, set goals for him, or have any kind of plan other than just allowing him to just fall through the cracks.  

When we were trying to have children, after seeing what they went through, it was my worst nightmare to even think about having an autistic child. However, because of what Ross and I witnessed with our nephew, we knew exactly what to look for, how to advocate, and had decided early on what kind of parents we would be. Regardless of how I will vote on Tuesday, one of my political heroes will always be George HW Bush for his passage of what is known by some as the “Civil Rights Act for People with Disabilities in the U.S.” It essentially says that discrimination may not occur on the basis of functional impairment or any other condition perceived to be a disability. When it was presented to Congress in 1990, it passed the House and Senate by one of the largest majorities ever to pass a bill.  

May we all choose to look at this moment in time as our very own Lech L’cha moment. Let us choose to live in the hope of moments like 1990, and believe that despite differences, and whatever drama or craziness may come out of our political systems, we can trust that there will be some greatness coming down the pike sooner than we might think. 

Here is a recording of my Zev singing Debbie Friedman’s Lechi Lach. When he was diagnosed with autism, I would never have thought it possible. How grateful I am to God for bringing us through that Lech L’cha moment when we learned of his diagnosis, and how grateful I am to have found ways to help him, thanks to people like George HW Bush. May we all find the hope and faith to believe that in liminal moments, even though we may disagree with them most of the time, there will be important moments when our leaders will choose to do something to profoundly help heal the world.