What does it mean to go ‘from yourself, from your homeland, the place of your birth and your father’s house?’ Surely, the Torah could have sufficed in saying ‘lech m’artz’cha el ha’aretz asher ar’echa’ – ‘go from your land to the land that I will show you.’ We normally assume that the Torah’s language is efficient and focused, so if the Torah uses a more expanded syntax, it means we are called to read the text very closely. In fact, we are going to read it so closely that we are going to only look at ‘lech lecha’.
That’s right: this is a sermon about two words. Two words.
Erev Rosh haShanah is a perfect time to contemplate beginnings and blessings, and endings, of course, as we bid goodbye to 5778 and welcome in 5779. For my family and myself, beginnings, blessings and endings have been intimately woven into our lives this past year. It is little over a year ago since we arrived and since I stood here on this bimah as your new Rabbi. This community has welcomed us open-heartedly in Iowa City. Your generosity, kindness, good humor and curiosity have been instrumental in the continued process of building our sacred relationship.