Abraham’s Journey Begins
by Tzvi Schnee
- Genesis 12:1-13
- November 3, 2019
This week’s reading from the Torah (the five books of Moses) begins with Abraham, who is called by H’Shem (the L-RD) to leave his country, kindred, and father’s house; the destination is only described as “the land that I will show thee” (Genesis 12:1, JPS 1917 Tanach). Lech Lecha (go forth), literally means “go for thyself.” Rashi comments that it would be for Abraham’s own benefit, in order for H’Shem to make a great nation from him (Rosh HaShannah 16b). Also, Rashi cites Midrash Tanchuma Lech Lecha 3, that Abraham’s character would become known amongst the nations.
One point that could be understood is that Abraham needed to leave his surroundings, a land consumed by idolatry, so that H’Shem could renew His divine plan. The world began anew with Noah after the Flood; however, idolatry prevailed. There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham, demonstrating G-d’s patience with those generations (Pirkei Avos 5:3). With Abraham, G-d renewed His plan to bring righteousness into the world. Yet, Abraham needed to leave his past behind himself, so that he could carry out his mission.
Lech lecha can also be rendered, “go to yourself.” This might apply in consideration of Abraham’s belief in One G-d. His transition, beginning years prior to G-d’s call, already set him apart from others where he lived. Now, he received the opportunity to strengthen his resolve to focus on his belief in H’Shem, in accordance with his core identity. His transformation from the way he was raised, to who H’Shem called him to be, brought him closer to himself.