When Enough is Enough – Parshat Lech Lecha 5783

At least once a week, I look around our house and wonder, “How do we have so much stuff?” It feels like as the kids get older and our lives get busier, we accumulate more and more stuff. Some of the stuff is reasonable: new toys, games, clothes. The problem with this is that we tend to fall behind on getting rid of the outdated, outgrown, unused items, causing clutter and stress for me. As I write this, I look out at a sea of old or half-finished art projects and toys that haven’t been played with for years.

It’s not that we’re hoarders (at least Duncan and I aren’t) but we do have packrat tendencies that make us yearn for more space. However, we can’t add on to our house every time we feel like we’re cramped. Instead, we have to make choices about what stays and what goes, and we have to figure out how to make the space livable for all four of us.

This feeling certainly isn’t unique to our family. In fact, Avraham and Lot teach us about some of this in our Torah portion this week. This week we read Parshat Lech Lecha. In Parshat Lech Lecha, we are finally introduced to Avram and Sarai – later Avraham and Sarah – who become the great patriarch and matriarch of the rest of our narrative. We learn that Avraham follows God with full intent, without questioning, and that Sarah goes with him. God tells him to leave his home, leave the only house he’s ever known, and go to a place he knows nothing about.

Following God’s voice and taking a leap of faith, Avraham goes on the journey with his kinsman, Lot. When they left for Egypt they had relatively few possessions, but as they made alliances and moved through Egypt they both amassed more “stuff” than they had originally intended. Their encampment together became crowded and unlivable. The clutter made the vast landscape feel small and cramped for the families, so they decided to part ways.

As tensions rise between the two families, Avraham says, “Let there be no strife between us, you choose where you want to move.” Clearly, for Avraham and Lot, more space was the answer. They couldn’t have parted with all their assets, so they instead moved to different places and expanded the amount of room. Since that’s not a possibility for our family, I’ll have to accept the alternative for now and “expand” our house by getting rid of some of our “assets.” It may cause a little bit of strife, but in the end, shalom bayit (peace in the home) isn’t necessarily about making everyone happy. It’s about compromise and understanding everyone’s needs, which is precisely the lesson of Lech Lecha.

– Rabbi Eve Posen

Source: When Enough is Enough – Parshat Lech Lecha 5783