God said to Abram, “Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you.” Leave! God said. Go! God said. Embark on the journey of a million steps and more than a thousand years. Commence your travel over great distances, begin your deep spiritual pursuit.
God said, “I will bless you.” Abram’s calling was towards a particular identity, an ethical monotheism that demanded Abram remove himself from his land, his home, and his family, that he break from the dark practices of paganism, including child sacrifice.
And God said, “All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” Abram’s journey was also a calling for a universalist truth wherein humans are created in the image of God, in the wonderment of creation, the power unto all power, linking all of life, one to another.
Today, uncountable generations later, two warring camps are tearing at our American democracy and presenting a fundamental challenge, premised on particularism and universalism, to our Jewish identity. One side fights for the exclusivity of identities, Jewish identity not included. The second for a universalist identify wherein ours too is rejected. No sooner should we build walls to protect us from one camp, than should we abandon our calling to hold to our unique identity. Abraham’s journey is our journey to bring forth in faith. It is an ethical obligation to greater society, a private journey for public good.
This Shabbat may we gird ourselves in our distinctively Jewish identity and our common humanity.