When have you embarked on a experience that led you not only towards a destination or goal but to a discovery about yourself as well?
In this week’s Torah portion we read the iconic words that God says to Abram (not yet Abraham) Lech L’cha – go forth (Genesis 12:1). Simple words that can speak to us on many levels at once.
One of the wise teen students I teach commented in Torah study a few weeks ago that while the Torah doesn’t change from year to year, reading to reading, we do. As I sit down to study this week’s Torah portion, I find myself once again drawn to the idea of a going forth, journeying, but in a new way. A few days ago, I finished performing in a musical where I acted, sang and danced with love and joy onstage. Each time I inhabit a character and devote love to her relationships and her life, I come to feel connected to her. Each time I say good bye to her, her nightly journey and to the relationships she cared about, I experience the sense of loss of those loves and relationships in some way as my own.
The rehearsal and performing period itself was a journey, but more than that it is a process of discovering what I can do, what parts of me find expression when given the lens of a new character.
Rabbinic commentaries teach us that the preposition added at the end of the command, the “lecha” to yourself, that follows the verb “Lech,” go” is there to add a figurative dimension to the journey. This isn’t only a journey of moving from one place to another, but a metaphorical and metaphysical journey as well. Abram’s journey is moving from a world that interacts with God in one way to a world that conceives of God and interacts with God in a whole different way. Even more so, it is a journey into himself, a journey of self discovery. Lech L’cha is the start of a journey that is as much an inward journey as it journeys outwards.
At this moment, while I look backwards to something that has passed, there is a sense of growth and of movement forward. Reflecting upon what lingers in the aftermath of the show, the new friends, the new accomplishments, I sense an expansion of myself. Elements of who I am showed up and grew through the filter of the character, and those parts of myself are now more open and available for me to see and access. I not only journeyed through the process of putting together a show, but I went into myself, and discovered new depths for feeling joy, love and compassion.