Lech Lecha 5776
This week’s portion begins with, and is named after the classic phrase “Lech Lecha” which means “go” or more accurately, “go towards yourself.” The title of a Torah portion is not merely based upon the first words starting the particular portion. More importantly, it must also serve as an introduction and offer us some insight into what we are about to learn.
Speaking to Abraham, the first Jew and Patriarch of the Jewish People, G-d says, “go forth from your land, your birthplace and your ancestral home to the place that I will show you,” your fundamental purpose is “Lech.” Abraham must “go,” move, grow, elevate and climb higher.” He should not only care for himself but must go out and sanctify other places. “Lecha,” meaning “towards yourself,” implies that in order to achieve the greatest potential he must also explore and get closer to his inner essence and nature. To succeed in this test of being uprooted and sojourning through strange and challenging places, one must recognize and actualize the inner essence of G-d that inhabits each of us.
This charge, “to go,” culminates in the land of Israel (Canaan) where Abraham would accomplish great things. However, he made a 400 year painful detour as he had to travel to the decadent society of Egypt where he would face many dangerous situations: “There was a famine in the land. Avraham headed south to Egypt to stay there for a while, since famine had grown very severe” (Chap 12, v10). This trip began an exilic process that ended with the exodus from Egypt more than 410 years later.
A Jew’s obligation is to move ever higher—always focused on his goals. Even when there is an apparent reversal of fortune like having to descend into a negative environment such as Egypt, one must proclaim holiness in every place and circumstance even in the most severe societies and places.
Going to Canaan required Abraham to attain one level of elevation; surviving Egypt demanded another. Jews must constantly maintain that unique ability to utilize their power of holiness to succeed and overcome whatever and whoever challenges them. As the Jew climbs spiritually higher, everything in his environment climbs with him.
In preparation for the revelation of Moshiach, we must take advantage of our awesome responsibility and ability and bring our mundane, course world to its intended, G-dly level.
Have a good Shabbos and a wonderful week,
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar