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G-d said to Abram… "Go for yourself… to the land that I will show you… and you shall be a blessing" (12:1-2).
That is G-d's first recorded communication with Abraham. Abraham had already turned his back on Ur, his home city. He and his family migrated to Haran (11:31), a town located on the route between Ur, the Land of Canaan, and Egypt.
Rashi comments that G-d's command to Abraham was for Abraham's own benefit. Based on his interpretation of the text (to 12:2), G-d implied to Abraham that unless he moved again, he would neither have children nor would his teachings have an impact on society.
The Sforno interprets the words "Go for yourself" to mean "go and do what you are here to do". Go to the specific part of Canaan which I will reveal to you in due course, avnd where I will provide further guidance.
The Kli Yakar presents Lech-Lecha in a more mystical framework, based on Midrash Bereishit Rabba 14:8. This source brings a tradition that when G-d formed Adam out of soil from the ground (2:7) it was from the earth of Mount Moriah itself. That soil was spiritually linked to Beth El, to the north of Jerusalem (B.R. 69:7, see also Rashi to Gen. 28:17). "Go for yourself" means to the specific part of Canaan that is connected with your intrinsic being. "Go for yourself" actually means "go to yourself". Go to the very soil where your essence as a human being originated. Indeed, it was near the spiritually-connected Beth El that Abraham was to build a place of worship and connect with G-d by calling on Him by name (12:8).
For Abraham's connection with the creation of Man lay in his own uniqueness. In contrast to his idolatrous ancestors (Josh. 24:2), Abraham initiated the Creation towards a new, higher level. He did more than recognize G-d; he encouraged others to live in harmony with Him (18:19, see also Rashi to 12:5). He thus raised service to G-d and the Creation from the work of individuals to the work of communities, and towards connecting the Creation back to the Creator. For it was through the seeds planted by Abraham that the key to living in harmony with the Creator and the Creation would eventually be revealed through the Torah and through nevua (prophecy).
Thus Lech-Lecha means to go to yourself, to the soil where your essence comes from. To what in due course will be the part of Eretz Yisrael where the Divine Presence is strongest. Through Abraham, it is designed to be the place where that essence of creation will flourish, and spiritually and socially raise the whole of mankind with it.
As Isaiah emphasized: "Those who seek G-d: Look to… the hollow of the pit from where you were dug; look to Abraham your forefather" (Isaiah 51:1-2).
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
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