And You Shall Be a Blessing…

Hebrew Calendar

Heshvan 5776

Yom Rishon, 5th Day of Heshvan

Gregorian Calendar

October 2015

Sunday, Oct. 18th

Tishrei | Heshvan | Kislev | Tevet | Shevat | Adar | Nissan | Iyar | Sivan | Tammuz | Av | Elul
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec



1st Book 
Genesis  | Bereisheit (In the Beginning)

2nd Book 
Exodus | Shemot (The Names)

3rd Book 
Leviticus | Vayikra (And God called)

4th Book 
Numbers | Bamidbar (In the desert)

5th Book 
Deuteronomy | Devarim (The Words)


Weekly Torah Reading:

Genesis, chapter 12: verses 1 through chapter 17: verse 27

Lech (leh-ch – throat scratch) 
Lecha (Leh-ch-ah – scratch it again, this time with an “ah” at the end)



Last week, our Torah portion hero was Noah, who was commanded by God to build an ark, take the animals two-by-two on a 40 day sunset cruise until the flood waters abated and then to repopulate the earth. Many generations have since passed and this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, stars Abraham and Sarah, who are commanded by God to leave their homeland. (God’s in a bossy mood these days. Perhaps he should join the Bossy Deity’s Club.)

Lech Lecha means: Go! or Leave! Literally: Go For You! God commands Abram – who hasn’t yet changed his name to Abraham: “Go from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” God promises to make Abram and his descendants a great nation and to bless them.  Abram thinks this is an awesome idea and journeys with his wife, Sarai (not yet Sarah) and his nephew, Lot, from their home in Haran (present-day Turkey) to the land of Canaan (present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel).

Lot goes rogue and settles in Sodom, the original Sin City, where he falls captive to hostile armies. We all know what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but that wasn’t true in Sodom. Abram finds out about Lot’s fate and sends a reconnaissance mission to rescue him. (More on Lot, Abram’s unruly nephew, in an upcoming SKINNY.)

Meanwhile, Sarai has been trying for years to have a baby, without success. You might remember from the Torah reading at Rosh Hashanah, that God felt bad about that, so he tells Abram to hook up with his Egyptian maidservant, Hagar, who gets pregnant. Sarai’s not too happy with the situation – really, who would be – and shows her RBF to Hagar every chance she gets. Hagar doesn’t need the Urban Dictionary to know that RBF stands for Resting Bitch Face. She gets that she’s not wanted and scurries out of town. An angel convinces Hagar to return by telling her that her son, Ishmael, will become a big shot CEO.

God then changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which means: Father of Multitudes and changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means: Princess. Mr. Big also turns out to be a great IVF doc and assures the newly-named couple that 99-year-old Abraham and 90-year-old Sarah will give birth to a son. God’s really into baby-naming apps and tells them to call their son Yitzchak (Yitz-ch – you know the drill – ack), which is Isaac in English, and means: Will Laugh. Abraham and Sarah were: lol’ing about having a baby at their age. We at TEAM SKINNY think Depeche Mode had it right when they sang: “I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors, but I think that God's got a sick sense of humor and, when I die, I expect to find Him laughing.” 

God’s not only Borscht Belt funny, he’s also a prolific angel investor. Mr. Big goes on to promise Abraham that he’ll make him the father of a great nation that’ll last for a really long time with a strong post-money valuation. To close the deal, God merely asks Abraham to circumcise himself (ouch!) and all of his descendants as a sign of the covenant between them.

This week’s Torah portion is when Jews became a start-up nation and, while we didn’t quite launch from a garage, we’re still a unicorn more than 5,000 years later. Check out these metrics: Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population. That is, 99.98% of the world’s population is NOT Jewish. And yet, saying we’re prolific is a major understatement. Compared to our small size (and we’re not talking about Abraham’s circumcision), Jews represent a disproportionate number of the world’s greatest achievements: 22% of Nobel Prize winners, 54% of the world’s chess champions, 21% of Ivy League schools’ student bodies, 26% of Kennedy Center honorees, 37% of Academy Award-winning directors, 51% of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction, 33% of conductors of America’s leading symphony orchestras, 37% of Oscar-winning movie directors, and 14% of Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners were – you guessed it – Jews.  

But we Jews are a diverse people too. God kept his promise to Abraham when he said: “Lech lecha” – Go on your way and I’ll turn you and your descendants into a great nation who are spread all over the world. We’re an amalgamation of countless tribes, ethnicities, cultures, customs, political views, races, languages, geographies, and nations. An old joke’s punchline: “Funny, you don’t look Jewish” is a giggle because there isn’t one prototype for a Jew. Simply put: There are all kinds of Jews. We’re psyched about that and think this brilliant video says it best. Watch it and then ask yourself, SKINNIES: What Kind of Jew Are You? What Kind of Jew Do You Want to Be? Then tell us what you think!