And so the journey begins. “Lech L’cha…” Avram and Sarai are told. Genesis 12:1.
God uses a lot of words for what should be a simple instruction. Instead of God just saying “Lech” – “Go” to Eretz Yisrael, God says:
1) Lech L’cha— Go get yourself
2) May’artzecha—from your land
3) U’memolodetcha—from your birthplace
4) U’mebayt Aveecha—from your parent’s house
5) El Eretz Asher Arecka—to the Land that I will show you.
I recently had shared with me a word of Torah attributed to the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Shneerson, z’l who was a firm believer that every word of Torah has perpetual relevance. The Rabbis teach us of the Torah in general and Genesis in particular —“Maasei Avot, siman l’banim.” We are to learn from the stories of our ancestors. The Torah is not a history book of the past, but a guide book for the future.
Correlating with the words above, the Rebbe taught that:
1) the word “L’cha” is important in order to realize that even if a journey will be a schlepp and you will be tired along the way, you must approach every task with your full being.
2) leaving your land was to tell Avram and all subsequent generations that we have to focus on our inner spirit that is infinite and not on our mere surroundings
3) leaving your birthplace means that it is possible to transcend and leave behind childish things and to be confident, strong and mature
4) leaving your parent’s house means that God looks to each of us to grow and go beyond our comfort zones in pursuit of all that God, Torah and Judaism hold dear.
5) “To the Land that I will show you” reminds us that there is a plan for each of us and it requires faith in the Almighty.
If you do these things, God tells Avram and Sarai and all of us that we will be blessed and so much more. Genesis 12:2-3.
We are each on a journey of one kind or another. The message of Lech l’cha resonates today.
Where are you going? Are you going whole heartedly? Are you looking out for your soul and spirit? Are you confident, strong and mature in your thoughts, words and deeds? Are you making an effort to grow as a person, leaving your comfort zone and challenging yourself to spur that growth? Do you have faith that your path is ultimately one of meaning and purpose? Are you making an effort to be on a right path?
Today would be an outstanding time to reflect on your life’s journey and your vision for your future. Perhaps this evening over Shabbat dinner could also be a time for reflection with your family and let your children hear your own thoughts. How beautiful for a child to hear your story, plan and vision. These are the moments and conversations that we remember as the teller and the listener.
This Shabbat we learn with our teacher Ruth Bergman at 9:45 when we will take a deep dive into understanding the complexities of the character of Avraham, the patriarch we thought we understood, the warrior and the peacemaker. Find us in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.