Lech Lecha – Hope and Longing

1 YHWH said to Avram, leave your land and birthplace and your father’s house for the land I will show you. 2 I will make a great nation of you and bless you and exalt your name — it will be a blessing. … 4 Avram went as YHWH had told him…

Genesis 12

What kind of day was it? The day Avram [1]later called Abraham and Sarai [2]later called Sarah set out for their destiny was not like any other. Light filled their empty rooms. It bounced around as if to say “there is nothing here to hold me”. It beckoned them to come outside and step into their journey. It flickered in their eyes and flashed over their skin. They knew it could not be contained, so they left.

5 Avram took Sarai his wife…

Genesis 12

Many times Sarai would sit by the fire and recall that day, the brightest day of her life. Her empty house seemed to push her out, while her heart begged her to stay, it was flooded with memories. She stepped outside and looked up and said “Enough, let us leave.” It wasn’t as if she was going somewhere familiar, but she had hopes of a new place on that great day. It might be harder there, but it could also be filled with unimagined possibilities. How silly to feel elation on “moving day”.

5 …and Lot his brother’s son and all the possessions that they had acquired and all the people they had in Haran; they set out to go to the land of Caanan …

Genesis 12

It was a day filled with hope for the future, combined with longing for the past. The sound of the closing door made it hard not to feel longing. They knew they would think back to this place often. They would long to seek refuge from the cold or the heat of the journey. They would long for the walls that had protected them from wind and rain for so many years, as they slept in their tents, always swaying in the wind. As their world began to shift into the always unexpected, they’d long for the comfortable routine that place had provided.

9 Avram traveled around the Negev.

Genesis 12

Outside the world was waiting for their first steps away. Departure to no certain destination, the journey itself was to be the only constant in their lives. The day itself was recounted by them and by generations to follow, without every noting the color of the sky or the movement of the clouds – had there been clouds? It was just a day, as such it had no significance for the cosmos, no one day ever does. Yet it was a day when the sun rose to one reality and set on a different one for them. Even if the wind blew, it was just not significant for their direction. If there was any inclement weather, no one saw fit to mention or record it. Only the journey itself would have meaning, for it alone keeps touching hearts and moving minds.

8 In God are my safeguard and my honor; the rock of my strength is my refuge in God.

Psalm 62

Hope swelled in their hearts, the hope of a new place and a new way of life. The hope welled up from both of them: a complicated man and his dedicated woman whose trust in one anther was absolute. So hope flowed evenly, easily from one heart to the other. They had no child but their bond would withstand a journey full of the unknown, the inconceivable covered by the dust of the road ahead. Only hope was clear to them as they closed the door to their lives in their ancestral land.

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

The link below deals with a Pious Man, but it could also describe a pious woman as well. If it were written today, I would use Human Being instead of Man. Sarah [3] Sarai in this chapter of Genesis should be considered a pious woman. By Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan
From the journal entry by Mordecai Kaplan – Sept. 1942

Next Midrash Vayera


1 later called Abraham
2 later called Sarah
3 Sarai in this chapter of Genesis