In this week’s Parashah Lech Lecha, the Bore Olam tells Abram to leave his home and his land and go to the place that He will show him. He promised to magnify him and make him a great people, with descendants as countless as the dust of the earth or as the stars of the sky.
Abram obeyed God and together with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, they left the city of Haran to go to the land of Canaan where he began to call upon the Name of God. Sarai, his wife, was barren and Abram was 99 years old, when God assured him that she would give birth to their son, Isaac the following year.
The shepherds of Abram and his nephew Lot did not get along. The situation became untenable so Abram told Lot to choose the land he preferred, and he would take the other; they would separate their flocks and thus avoid conflict. When Abram complained about not having children yet, God told him to count the number of stars in the sky, because his descendants would be as numerous as them. This time, the promise included a brit, a covenant, which is a ceremonial pact during which Abram foresaw of the future exile and the slavery of his descendants in a foreign land (Egypt). Finally, this covenant between Abram and God was sealed through circumcision (Brit Milah) for himself and his descendants.
At God’s direction, Abraham circumcised himself, his sons Ishmael and Isaac, along with all the males of his household. This was the first Brit Milah in the history of the people of Israel.
Upon arriving in Canaan, God told Abraham that he would give all that land to his children and in gratitude, Abraham built an altar to the Eternal. This promise was repeated in these chapters to assure him that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
The Brit Milah has become one of the most important and respected ceremonies in Jewish tradition. This is the moment of initiation for the newborn son into his community. For Rambam, the brit constitutes a very important teaching, because through this ceremony it is taught that personal sacrifice, the giving of oneself, is indispensable in the man-to-man relationship as well as the man-to-God relationship.
Abraham is a clear example that stepping out of our comfort zones can result in great change. If Abraham had not been willing to give up his comfort, he would not have set out on the path that God was showing him. Life is not static, we as human beings grow, especially those who grow both physically and spiritually. For this to happen, like Abram, we must leave our previous state, then advance, continue to progress, and put aside our limitations. One step after another in an what seems like an endless climb. Taking risks, always looking to go one step further, is something that frightens us, but it also causes us to grow and develop into our maximum potential.
And so we, the children of Abraham, continually hear the voice of our Creator exhorting us: “Leave your land, your birthplace, the house of your parents“, leave what was once a place of safety and growth, and go to a new place, a land in which you would develop even more. And it is this journey that we continue, beyond our limitations, always in search of growth, which little by little takes us to that moment when we can overcome our fears and the things that prevent us from growing and maturing.
So instead of simply saying: “Lech, «go»,” God says: “Lech Lecha «go towards yourself»” and this is what God is saying to all of us, “Lech Lecha «go towards yourself», «go into yourself» and I will meet you there”. Even those who are not called to leave their home or their physical country, God sends them on this inner journey of faith: “go towards yourself, toward the essence of your soul, toward your final purpose, toward that inner land that He will show you”. May we grow and fully develop.
The first crucial step in life is to go inward to self-discovery of what God has called us to be, and to discover our mission, our purpose in life. Parashat Lech Lecha shows us Abram’s life from 75 to 99 years of age. This means that he lived most of his life without truly knowing what his destiny or his purpose in life was.
Another important point is for us to pay little attention when it comes to Abraham’s faith. Although he did obey God and he did leave his land to form a new people, he was hesitant on several occasions. Abraham doubted, he questioned, he even questioned God when he did not agree with Him. Abraham’s faith was deep and strong, but it was not blind; he dared to rationalize and question. When faced with Abraham’s doubts, God did not get angry with him; on the contrary, He welcomed him. Abraham is an example of someone with a critical spirit, and very human, allowing himself to doubt. Questioning is part of faith, and if done within a framework of respect, it can further strengthen our bond with the Creator.
When God spoke to Abraham, He promised him many things – that he would be blessed, and that his name would be exalted. But for this, Abraham had to be the example of one who motivated the people to bless God. That had to be his essence: that through his behavior, men would sanctify the name of GOD. Thus, he would bring blessing to the whole world. So, each of us are “ambassadors of light” and our actions should lead men to bless GOD.
Lech Lecha – go to yourself. How can a person go to himself? By observing ourselves, and by moving towards who and what we really are. As much as we can, let’s avoid pursuing goals that separate us from the Almighty. Let us make it a personal goal to seek our spirituality within, to bring it to the surface, to develop our true strength, and thus be able to approach and draw closer and closer to the King of the universe.
Translated and narrated by Peggy Pardo