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Temple Israel of Scranton

Temple Israel of Scranton

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Parashat Lekh lekha 5781

Posted on October 30, 2020

Lekh lekha 5781

In the middle of parashat lekh lekha God appears to Avram in a vision and says: “Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years, but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end, they shall go free with great wealth.”

Is this good news — ultimately Avram’s offspring will go free with great wealth? Is this terrible news — the offspring will be enslaved for 400 hundred years? What kind of vision is this for the future?

The answers are yes, yes, and Avram does not know. It is not clear. The details are missing. Remember, at this point in the story Avram does not even have any children at all!  As far as predicting the future, Avram’s vision was cloudy. Avram did not know what was going to happen. But as far as providing a call to action, Avram’s vision was clear. Avram went forward and began the Jewish people.

We are living in an era of grave uncertainty. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. When will this virus be under control? When will there be a vaccine? When can we come back to shul? We don’t know.

We are in the middle not only of an election season, we are in the middle of an election. In Pennsylvania people have been voting already for weeks. And in Pennsylvania, mail-in ballots will be accepted all the way until Friday, November 6th at 5:00 PM as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday, November 3rd. The system was designed to continue counting the ballots in Pennsylvania well past election day. That was the plan. It is critical that every single ballot that comes in be counted. Pennsylvania is a crucial swing state. At what point will it be clear who won the election, in Pennsylvania and in the country? We don’t know. It is possible that the numbers will be definitive early on. But it is very likely that we will have to live with uncertainty for several days, possibly even beyond next Shabbat.

The pandemic, the election, other areas of our lives as well — we must live with uncertainty. And like Avram, we must go forward anyway. We have a path of action. We continue building our Jewish community involvement in the ways that we can. We have minyan, we have classes, we have each other.  We continue with our civic involvement in the ways that we can as well, including insisting that ballots be counted, including calling for restraint in declaring winners until all the ballots are counted, including expecting peaceful transfer of power where applicable. We may not know what the end result will be. But we do know our paths forward.