Remember the first time you left your home, your family, and everything that was familiar to you? Perhaps it was college? Or simply moving on as is symbolic of growth and maturity? It may of not been an easy move, though in hindsight we all admit the great value of moving on, moving forward.
In this week’s Torah portion our forefather, Abraham, experiences a life altering moment we can relate to. In Genesis 12:1 – Lech L’cha, (Go forth for yourself),
וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֶל־אַבְרָם לֶךְ־לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ
“And Gd said to Abram, go forth from your country, and your family (or ancestry), and your father’s house…”
When I read this verse, it is obvious that Abraham is on a mission, but the idea of “going forth”, leaving as a process – your country, your family, your home… so emphasized, pushes us to think a bit deeper about what it means to leave that which is familiar, towards the great potential of that which is unknown.
Later on in Genesis 13:17, again Avraham is urged to קוּם הִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּאָרֶץ,“Arise and walk the land…”, literally walk on it. For some this commandment is kind of redundant, after all, Avraham was commanded to “Go Forth” to land at the very start?! An early 18th century commentator, Chaim b. Moshe, Or HaChaim, explains that this quote is where the rabbis derive the halacha, or Jewish Law, pertaining to acquisition, the term is known as a Hazaka – if one does not take ownership over one’s land, then it no longer belongs to that person. As a matter of fact when the Ottoman Empire controlled the land, this law was in effect; if one did not plant a tree, or till the land for seven years, the land no longer belonged to that person. Makes sense when we think about all those trees planted in Israel by the early pioneers, while under ottoman rule.
This concept makes just as much sense in our lives today, simply put we are the ones that need to “roll out of bed”, take the first steps, and own our decisions. I am of the belief that each of us has been given a destiny, a purpose, yet we are the ones who need to act and help to reveal the destiny which lies before us.
Abraham required a whole lot of compromise: his country, his ancestry, and the home he grew up in, basically everything that was familiar to him. Yet through the act of leaving, Abraham in fact arrived and found his purpose.
Lech L’cha – Get up and go forth!