Lech Lecha – An Eternal Commandment
Special Dvar Torah, by Mr. Avraham Duvdevani (Duvdev)
Chairman of the World Zionist Organization for the World-Wide Project - Lech Lecha
"ויאמר ה' אל אברם לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראך"
"And God said to Avram, go forth you from your country and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you."
Allegedly, the command "לך לך" ("Go forth you") that Avram is commanded seems to contradict the few verses at the end of Parshat Noach: "And Terach took Avram, his son. . . and went with them from Ur Casdim to go into the land of Canaan; and they came to Charan and resided there." Terach is the one who left Ur-Casdim and started to go to Canaan, and he didn't do this in obedience to a command of God, but apparently he moved his family for reasons of his own – perhaps to earn a better living, perhaps due to other reasons, such as security, culture or politics.
The command ""לך לך )"Go forth, you") doesn't relate at all to Terach. Rather, Avram is commanded to leave the country of his birth as if he were the first one to do so.
Apparently this is not merely an additional migration in the life of Avram, but the Torah is referring to the first Aliyah.
God did not command Avram, "לך מארצך" (Go forth from your country) – but rather, " לך לך מארצך " ("Go forth you from your country") and the addition of the small word, ""לך ("you") makes a huge difference.
Rashi relates to the extra word, "לך" ("you", or "to you") which, in his opinion, highlights the good in the goal of this trip. Rashi says, "להנאתך ולטובתך"" - for your benefit [pleasure] and for your good." The double language highlights that this was both good and pleasurable (or beneficial). There are things which give man pleasure but are detrimental to him, such as eating sweet foods full of calories and cholesterol. And there are other things that are good for one, even though they do not give him pleasure, such as a necessary surgery, taking bitter medication and so forth. Here, God lets Avram know that his going to the Land of Israel will be both pleasurable [beneficial] and good.
When Avraham entered the Promised Land, there was a famine in the land. And if this weren't bad enough, when the famine was over, Avraham encountered another trauma: A war in which he was personally involved.
So what was so good and beneficial about this land promised to Avraham?
Terach wanted "to go into Land of Canaan". However, when God spoke to Avraham, he didn't say: ארץ כנען, (Land of Canaan) but"הארץ" (The Land), usingה"א הידיעה , (the definitive "the"). "Land of Canaan", is a simple and natural term, like "Land of Egypt". As opposed to these, when the Torah refers to the "הארץ" ("The Land"), with the definitive ה"א ( the definitive "the") its intention is more complex and much deeper; "בראשית ברא אלוהים את השמיים ואת הארץ" ("In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.") The earth, ""הארץ with the definitive ה"א, (the definitive "the"), is the universe, the world, and it is also the land chosen from the world for fulfilling the destiny worthy of the world. Avraham was chosen to fulfill the destiny of humanity and therefore God tells him: "ונברכו בך כל משפחות האדמה ובזרעך" ("and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed and in your offspring") .
The purpose of going [to the Land of Canaan] is to influence all the nations; "And you shall be a blessing" - means that not only will you be blessed but you will carry with you blessings for all.
Going to Israel is not limited to providing a territorial framework for the descendents of Avraham, but is a long-term obligation with implications for the entire world. The final goal is to build a model of national identification in the Land of Israel that will constitute"אור לגויים" - a "Light unto the Nations".
This was the model that was presented to Avraham at the time he entered the land. The nature of the land doesn't guarantee a healthy economy or peaceful existence. The land 'can' acquire these if its inhabitants know that this is a land of great spiritual challenge; if they know that absolute morality and the Divine laws of justice comprise the country's geographical boundaries; and if they understand that fulfillment of Gd's promise for a peaceful, secure and prosperous land that will embody "להנאתך ולטובתך" ("for your pleasure and for your good") comes through actualization of the prophetic vision of a perfect society, of brotherhood and unity and of honesty and integrity.
This is the essence of Avraham's going to "הארץ" (The Land).
It is about this kind of act that our sages say, "מעשה אבות סימן לבנים" )"The actions of the fathers are a sign for the children.") May the commandment "לך לך" be a source of blessing for all the families of the earth, one which is renewed in every generation and for every individual. May the actions of Avraham be a sign and a symbol for each and every one throughout the world and in Israel.
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