It was a course in college that brought me to analyze Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
And so it goes with this week’s Torah portion. Lech Lecha is a story about a powerful protagonist who charts a course for a man and his family, and eventually for a people. It is a tale that challenges the pressures to conform and defies the rituals of an idol-worshipping community. It is an account of a man who dares to be different and has the chutzpah to envision a world that is just and compassionate.
We are fortunate to have the options we do today. We can embrace our choices about where to live, what to drive, what to eat, what to wear, whom to marry, where to work, etc. For me, it all comes back to taking the road less traveled. I believe that life is a journey that should be productive, unique and inspiring. We each should bravely blaze our own trails. But, at the same time, do so in ways that are not about being selfish or self-centered. It’s important to accept personal, moral, and collective responsibility as we try new things and meet new people along the way.
Abraham leaves his homeland and travels to a place that God promises to show him. Through his journey, we gain tremendous insight into his personality, skills, abilities, and behaviors. We see Abraham as husband, father, uncle, mediator, host, negotiator, businessman, and even consumer. And, while we may not think about it very often, we know that he also demonstrates ways to be fair, understanding, welcoming, and forward-thinking. Most importantly, Abraham – as explained by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – does what he does, not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of starting something new.
Be confident. Be courageous. Dare to be different. Start something new. Let’s travel down a path where no one has gone before.