10 Life Lessons from Lech L’cha

In reading this wonderful section of Torah that inspires us to confront our faith, I generated 10 life lessons that I take from these verses:

  1. In life, leaving is often required. (Gen. 12:1): “The Eternal One said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.’”  Leaving behind old notions, ones that no longer serve us allow us to enter into new possibilities to become our best selves. Clarity of awareness is critical; pay attention to the impetus to move, even when risk may be involved.
  2. Be a blessing.  (Gen. 12:2): “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and it shall be a blessing.”  Let your actions open the channels of blessing into this world, infusing each of your actions with a spark of purity and divinity.
  3. Be gracious. (Gen. 12:7): “The Eternal now appeared to Abram and said, ‘I am giving this land to your descendants.’ Abram then built an altar there to the Eternal who had appeared to him.”  They may seem excessive, but if they are given with an open heart, these unusual gifts may be of immense spiritual value.
  4. Tell the truth. (Gen. 12:19): “Why did you say that she was your sister, so that I took her as a wife for myself? Look, now that it turns out that she is your wife; take her and be gone.” Abram needed refuge from the famine; but the consequent anger and long-term distrust from Pharaoh had implications for his ability to fulfill his destiny. What may seem like a good short-term solution will come back to bite you in the end. 
  5. Proceed step by step, stage by stage. (Gen. 13:3): “Abram proceeded by stages from the Negev as far as Beth El.”  While you need to know where you are going, you also need to pay attention to where you are right now. Each step presents options, a fork in the road; proceed mindfully.
  6. Do what you can to maintain good family ties.  (Gen. 13:8): “Then Abram said to Lot, ‘There should be no quarrel between you and me, and your herdsmen and mine, for we are close kin.’” There are many things that can get in the way of good living, and sometimes we do not see eye to eye with family; even so, find common ground – there is always a solution for peace.
  7. Dare to look up. (Gen. 13:14): “And the Eternal One said to Abram, after Lot had parted from him, ‘Raise your eyes and look out form where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west.’”  We are bound up in our thoughts. Wherever our thoughts are, there we are.  Look with soul-filled attention at each experience and person within your visual field; do not let your thoughts distract you, fleeing to other places.
  8. Let go of fears.  (Gen. 15:1-6): “After these things, the word of YHWH came to Abram in a vision. God said, ‘Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.’”  We know that change brings fear of further change. But it is through faith and trust that you will find the greatest rewards in life.
  9. Make a name for yourself.  (Gen. 17:5): “No longer are you to be called Abram; your name is to be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a multitude of nations.” What do you want to evoke in others when they say or hear your name?  Your name speaks of your identity.  Once you have discerned your own task, attend to it. Act each day to bring those hopes to fruition.
  10. Be ready for the unexpected. (Gen. 17:19): “But God said, ‘Nonetheless, your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, whom you shall call Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him and his descendants after him as an everlasting covenant.’” Unbelievable just means that you don’t believe it yet.
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