“If You Go Left…”

It seemed as though they got along well – until they didn’t.  Avram took in his nephew Lot whose father had passed away.  Lot traveled with Avram and Sarai to Canaan, to Egypt and then back to Canaan.  That’s when things went south.

The Torah tells us that there was a quarrel not only between Avram and Lot, but also among the herders that worked for the two men.  Something needed to be done.

So, Avram made Lot a seemingly gracious offer.  Avram said: Let us separate – if you go left, I will go right.  If you go right, I will go left (Gen. 13:9).”  Lot took a good look around and chose a direction.  Avram went the other way.

It seemed like a good solution at first.  After a while, however, the big flaw in this solution became clear.  First, Lot was captured by invaders from the East (Gen. 14:12).  So, Avram mustered his men and went after Lot.  Avram was able to rescue Lot and his family as well as recover all his possessions.

Then, a short time later, God made Avram aware of the plan to destroy Sedom and Amorrah because of the wickedness of the inhabitants.  Avram tried to save all the residents of those two cities, but was unable to do so.  However, he did arrange for the escape of Lot and his family.

Fortunately, Avram did not allow his quarrel with Lot or their parting of ways to completely sever the bond between them.  These two incidents following the separation of Avram and Lot remind us that, in the end, we can’t just go it alone.  We can’t simply solve our disputes by walking away from one another.  We have to find a way to work through our issues and co-exist.  Sometimes, our very survival depends on it.

A quick glance at Tuesday’s electoral map seems to indicate that half of our country has turned left while the other half has turned right.  We all seem to think that our lives would be better without the folks who turned in the other direction.  However, we all ought to know that we are interdependent.  We are better as a society when we find a way to coexist with – rather than turn away from – one another.

So far, our leaders have shown us how to turn back toward one another – a gracious victory speech, an equally gracious concession speech and a meeting between the current president and the president-elect.  Now, it’s up to the rest of us to follow.

So, if you turn left, I want to hear what you see off to the left.  And if you turn right, I want to hear what you see off to the right.    And then, maybe, you’ll want to hear about what I see when I look around.  And then, perhaps, we won’t have to go our separate ways.

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters sit together (Ps. 133:1).”



About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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