Parshat Lech L’cha

Artist: Edna Miron Wapner,  Israel/ England/ Germany

“God said to Avram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing’.”

The call lech lecha can be understood in many different ways: Go by yourself and do it alone; Go to yourself to fill your own potential; Go inward and do a heshbon nefesh / a spiritual accounting; Get on with it and do what you are destined to do. The renowned Medieval commentators, Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Itzsacki 1040-1105, France) and Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon 1135 – 1204, Spain), contribute their interpretations in order to shed light on the the Biblical narrative which opens the Lech Lecha Torah portion.

Rashi understands the reflexive use of the verb to mean go for yourself, go for your own benefit as God promised to make of him [Avram] “a great nation and [or receive a] a blessing.” Rambam understands here that Avram is being tested and called upon by God for a spiritual, personal mission. “The land that I will show you” is the only indication of where he is going. Rambam assesses the challenge in order of difficulty: firstly, leaving his home and homeland, secondly, his family and hardest of all is to leave his elderly parents. Avram hears God’s call and understands that this was one journey he had to undertake on his own. His faith and courage are being challenged to choose between God’s will and his own. His devotion was his guide on the journey. The tests, wanderings and experiences were part of God’s design.

LECHI LACH (the grammatically and spiritually feminine restructuring of this imperative) is my own artistic exploration of heshbon nefesh and my response to a spiritual call. My personal version is to go (in)to myself, to Israel, and I shall be blessed. I experienced a spiritual call to leave my life in Canada to go live in Jerusalem. It was a deep knowing unlike anything I have ever known. There was nothing rational about this revelation, no plans or questions. I was responding to a still inner voice, the voice that spoke to Abraham telling him to “Get thee out of your land, go unto yourself”. Yair Caspi teaches in his book, Inquiring of God, “If we are prepared to follow this path, to fall into confusion and lose ourselves and yet keep on going, a new direction will open up before us …the place where the voice of God is heard.”

As a Jewish spiritual artist, and in my teaching of Expressive Kavannah, the Torah is a metaphor for my own path. My spiritual connection to God draws me into a space of creativity that feels both exciting and daunting. There is fear and trepidation in daring to create. The process requires courage and faith in myself. The spiritual and creative journey, experienced as one, brings me to a place of flow from which inspiration and creation spring forth spontaneously. The creative process then becomes a way to elevate and enhance my life. That is the blessing.

About Edna

Edna Miron Wapner was born in Israel in 1948, and was brought up and educated in Montreal. She returned to her family’s Israeli roots in 1977 and settled in Jerusalem. As an artist with specialties in Printmaking, Sumi-e Painting, Calligraphy, and Papermaking, she has exhibited her work over the past thirty years in museums and galleries in the US, Israel, Russia and Japan. Her own approach to her art is a spiritual one facilitated through Jewish meditation followed by spontaneous creation.

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