Parshat Lech Lecha

By: Yosef Cashdan | Shaliach, Cleveland

“לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃”
“Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”
The Mishnah in Masechet Avot says that Avraham Avinu was given ten different trials. The Parshanim of the Mishna had different opinions on what the first trial was; Rabbi Ovadia MiBartanura, says that Avraham’s first trial was being thrown into the furnace. However, seeing as the story of Avraham being thrown into the furnace isn’t told in the Torah, the Rambam, says that Avraham’s first trial was the commandment of “Lech Lecha..”, the commandment to leave his homeland, his family and travel towards the land that Hashem will show him.

The difficulty in this trial is clear: Avraham has to drastically change his life, he has to leave his family, friends and homeland and relocate to a foreign land, which he doesn’t know anything about to prove his love to Hashem. And to this day, amongst us, many people follow in his footsteps.
This week in Israel, we commemorated ‘Yom Ha’aliyah’, on Yom Ha’aliyah we recognise how important Aliyah is to the existence and development of the State of Israel and for that we are thankful to Hashem, the ‘Mekabetz Nidchei Yisrael’.

It was definitely hard enough for Avraham to leave his family and homeland behind, so why, in addition to that, did Hashem make the journey even harder by hiding the destination from Avraham? (Hashem referred to the destination as “the land that I will show you” and not Eretz Cana’an).
The Midrash gives two answers: The first answer is that Hashem wanted to reward Avraham for each step that he took. The second answer is that Hashem wanted Avraham to feel excited about getting to the destination, just as we get excited about receiving pleasant surprises. However, besides for those two reasons, the Midrash also implies that the main reason is to test Avraham. So what is the trial all about and what’s the point of it?

By hiding the destination from Avraham, Avraham was automatically required to be connected to Hashem, continuously, so that he could know where to go. It was Hashem’s guarantee to Avraham that He’ll be with him throughout the journey and that their relationship was going to grow. Avraham was Zocheh to travel with the Shechina throughout the journey.

On a deeper level, it can even be understood that “the land that I (Hashem) will show you” is itself the destination. Hashem is describing the uniqueness of the Land, Hashem is saying; this is the land that I will show you, this is the land in which I will see you. This Land isn’t like all the other lands, this special land is the only land that I, Hashem care about in this unique way. Only in this land can we be fully connected to Hashem. In order to continue to build this connection with Hashem, we need to always remember that our Land isn’t like all the others, our Land, our State is different, Hashem’s eyes are always on it and we need to act in accordance.