Parshas Lech Lecha #1
Into the Unknown
"Go for yourself (Lech lecha) from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you" (Bereishis 12:1). With these few words, Hashem instructed Avraham, aged seventy-five, to leave behind everything that was familiar and secure and head into an unknown future - and he obeyed without question.
Chazal tell us, "With ten trials our father Avraham was tested" (Avos 5:3). The commentaries differ as to which events in Avraham's life are counted as his ten trials. According to the Rambam (Perush HaMishnayos ibid.), the very first one was Lech Lecha. The last was Akeidas Yitzchak, the command to offer his beloved son Yitzchak as a sacrifice to G-d. Avraham prevailed every time, emerging as the first of the Avos (Forefathers), the founder and eternal role model of the Jewish nation.
The wording of Lech lecha is surprising; it seems to be the opposite of what we would expect. Avraham is told to leave his land and his birthplace, and only then his father's house. Practically speaking, a traveler embarking on a journey first leaves his house, then his hometown, and only later, when he crosses the border, does he leave his country. Why is the order reversed here?
The Ramban (12:1) explains that the order of the verse does not relate to geography. It highlights the many hardships of leaving home. It is difficult to move away from one's native country, with its familiar language and culture. It is even more difficult to leave one's birthplace, where he is part of the social environment, and has his place in the community. Hardest of all, however, is leaving one's own home and parents.
Any move can be a difficult, painful process. Even today, when telephones, email, and convenient international travel keep us connected to family and friends worldwide, anyone who has made Aliyah can testify that starting a new life in unfamiliar surroundings is not easy. Avraham had none of these luxuries when he walked away from his entire life in Charan, including his elderly father, never to return. On every level, Lech lecha was an enormous test.
Question for Discussion:
If you were faced, like Avraham, with the command to leave home and family behind and set out for the unknown, which one item would you choose to take along, and why? Beyond basics like food and clothing, what above all would you want to bring with you into a new and unfamiliar life?Click Here To Respond