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For all is from You, and from Your hand we have given it to You

By: Rav Avigdor Meyerowitz

"֤ ' ֔ ֛ ֥ ֖ ֣ ֑ ֖ ֥ :"

"Hashem said to Avram: Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you."[1]

This first pasuk of our Parsha, the first words Hashem spoke to Avrham Avinu, raises numerous questions all of which have already been asked by the mepharshim.

  1. Why does Hashem speak to Avraham? If he was deserving of being chosen, why does the Torah not relate his righteousness to us as it did regarding Noach in last week's Parsha?
  2. What is the meaning of the double language "lech lecha"? Would it not suffice to say "lech" – "go"?
  3. Why is it necessary to state where Avraham has to go from? Why not simply say where to go to, which would obviously necessitate leaving his present location?
  4. Since the Torah does state where Avraham has to leave from, it would make sense to reverse the order. If one is to migrate from his home to another country, one first leaves their father's home, then their local place of birth, and finally their country. Why does Hashem reverse the order: "your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house"?
  5. Why is the destiny to where Avraham is to go not stated and revealed to him immediately?
  6. At the end of last week's Parsha it states: "And Terach took Avram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter in law, the wife of Avram his son, and they went forth with them from Ur Kasdim to go to the land of Canaan, and they came as far as Haran and settled there." In other words, Terach, and therefore Avram too, had already decided, on their own initiative, to leave Ur Kasdim and to go to Eretz Canaan, so what is the meaning of attributing this to Hashem's command to Avraham to do so? He already did it!

As mentioned, all these questions have been asked and answered by many of the mepharshim, Rishonim and Acharonim alike. I would like to suggest an additional approach.

The Rambam, in the first chapter of the Laws of Idol Worship where he gives a lengthy overview of the history of idol worship, describes in detail the life of Avraham Avinu from a young age and how he brought the message of One G-d to the world:

"The world continued in this fashion until the pillar of the world - the Patriarch Avraham - was born.

After this mighty man was weaned, he began to explore and think. Though he was a child, he began to think [incessantly] throughout the day and night, wondering: How is it possible for the sphere to continue to revolve without having anyone controlling it? Who is causing it to revolve? Surely, it does not cause itself to revolve.

He had no teacher, nor was there anyone to inform him. Rather, he was mired in Ur Kasdim among the foolish idolaters. His father, mother, and all the people [around him] were idol worshipers, and he would worship with them. [However,] his heart was exploring and [gaining] understanding.

Ultimately, he appreciated the way of truth and understood the path of righteousness through his accurate comprehension. He realized that there was one God who controlled the sphere, that He created everything, and that there is no other God among all the other entities. He knew that the entire world was making a mistake. What caused them to err was their service of the stars and images, which made them lose awareness of the truth.

Abraham was forty years old when he became aware of his Creator. When he recognized and knew Him, he began to formulate replies to the inhabitants of Ur Kasdim and debate with them, telling them that they were not following a proper path.

He broke their idols and began to teach the people that it is fitting to serve only the God of the world. To Him [alone] is it fitting to bow down, sacrifice, and offer libations, so that the people of future [generations] would recognize Him. [Conversely,] it is fitting to destroy and break all the images, lest all the people err concerning them, like those people who thought that there are no other gods besides these [images].

When he overcame them through the strength of his arguments, the king desired to kill him. He was [saved through] a miracle and left for Charan. [There,] he began to call in a loud voice to all people and inform them that there is one God in the entire world and it is proper to serve Him. He would go out and call to the people, gathering them in city after city and country after country, until he came to the land of Canaan - proclaiming [God's existence the entire time] - as [Genesis 21:33] states: "And He called there in the name of the Lord, the eternal God."

When the people would gather around him and ask him about his statements, he would explain [them] to each one of them according to their understanding, until they turned to the path of truth. Ultimately, thousands and myriads gathered around him. These are the men of the house of Abraham."[2]

This fantastic description of the intellectual, moral and social achievements of Avraham are overwhelming. It is difficult to overstate the greatness of Avraham considering the background and circumstances that he lived in. Not only his personal achievements are unprecedented, but more so his unbending, relentless commitment to not only live by his beliefs, but to spread them to all of humanity is awe-inspiring.

As the Rambam states at the end of the above halacha, Avraham succeeded greatly in his mission, and "Ultimately, thousands and myriads gathered around him. These are the men of the house of Avraham".

What would the next step be for Avraham and his accumulating followers? Surely it would be the establishment of "The State of the Nation of the G-d of Avraham"[3], as indeed happened afterwards according to Hashem's promise with the formation of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael?

Yet it is precisely at this moment that Hashem says to Avraham : "Lech lecha Me'artzecha!" – Go away from your land! Abandon your plan of creating this State and this Nation!

If Avraham is told to abandon this plan, what is the next best option? To create and form a close circle of followers, even without a land and state, committed to the truths and beliefs of Avraham (a chassidut?).

Yet once again Hashem says: "Lech lecha…U'mi'moladatcha" – Go away from the formation of creating a "moledet" – a close "broad" family like circle of followers.[4]

What then is the last possible option for Avraham to do? To start from his own family. He would start from Sarah and himself, and eventually from his future children, would become this great G-d fearing family.

But Hashem says: "Lech lecha …U'mi'bet Avikha!" Go away from this idea too of creating this special family.

According to this explanation, Hashem is not informing Avraham of the physical and geographical moves he has to make, nor the emotional and psychological changes required of him; rather Hashem is commanding him to abandon his possible plans for the continuation of his life commitment of spreading the truth about G-d.

Why does Hashem say this to Avraham? What is the meaning of this especially since immediately after this Hashem says to him:

֙ ֣ ֔ ֣֔ ֖ ֑ ֖

And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.?

The answer however, seems to be embedded in the words of these two pesukim themselves. Hashem says to Avraham to abandon all these things , , -  - emphasis on the final "chaf" in these words – "your land, your moledet, your family", because if you do any of these, then it will be attributed to you, it will belong to you. It will become the State of Avraham or the Moledet of Avraham or the Family of Avraham. It is a question of -  - belonging. Who belongs to whom?

Indeed, Hashem says to Avraham, you will become a great nation in the land (Avraham), a great Moledet (Yitzchak) and a great family (Ya'akov), however – - I will make you such. [5]

And therefore, Lech Lecha, go alone[6], leave all your thousands and myriads of followers behind, and go to the land that I will show you, and I will make you into a great nation, a nation whose primary fundamental quality is – belonging and faithfulness to G-d.

In all of the above circumstances, country[7], circle of people with common beliefs and goals and family[8], there is always the danger of ultimate allegiance. What is the most important? Who is it all for? Who's is it? At the very beginning of the inception of Am Yisrael Hashem makes it clear, it must all be for My sake as it is all from Me. Only after Avraham leaves it all behind, wonders off alone with Sarah, and shirks off all of what is his (the chaf sofit), does Hashem speak to him again and say:

֤ ' ֔ ֕ ֨֔ ֖ ֣ ֑"

And Hashem appeared to Avram, and He said, "To your children I will give this land,""[9]

֚ ֥ ֘ ֪ ֥֫ ֣ ֖ ֣ ֑"

Not for us, Hashem, not for us, but for Your name give honor"[10]

                                                                                                                                                      

note: the title is from - 

[1] ""

 Divrei Hayamim 1. 28;14


[1] Breishit12;1

[2] Rambam, Laws of Idol Worship,1;1-3.

[3] See Tehilim 47;10.

[4] Though some explain the word "moledet" as meaning the place of birth, according to many it does not mean that here. See Megilat Ester 2;20 and 8;6., Ramban, Shadal on Breishit 12;1. My intention is that it means a close circle of people that relate to the leader as the Molid, the "Father – Godfather – Tate (Yiddish) – Rebbe, etc."

[5] This has nothing to do with the question of taking action and doing versus waiting for Hashem to do. The issue is the foundation of it all. For whom is it?

[6] See Abarbanel and Ntziv Ha'amek Davar, Breishit 12;1.

[7] "Germany, Germany above all - Above all in the world" – from the German national anthem!

[8] The most important thing in life is health and family – Common Israeli saying. In contrast – Akeidat Yitzchak!

[9]  Breishit 12;7.

[10] Tehilim 115;1.

 

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