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THE BIG MOVE

by Rabbi Norman Schloss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

This week's Torah portion begins with the first of ten tests or trials that Hashem puts Abraham through. The portion opens, "Lech lecha - Go for yourself from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house to the land which I will show you" (Genesis 12:1).

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This week's Torah portion begins with the first of ten tests or trials that Hashem puts Abraham through. The portion opens, "Lech lecha - Go for yourself from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house to the land which I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). Hashem asks Abraham purely on faith to put his trust in Hashem and to follow Him to an unknown land. Lest there be any misunderstanding, Hashem clearly delineates for Abraham the parameters, that he is to leave his home and place of birth. The Torah tells us that Abraham does as Hashem wishes. However, the Torah then states, "Abraham took his wife Sarah and Lot, his nephew, and all their wealth that they had amassed, and the souls that they created in Charan". If the Torah tells us that Abraham did all that Hashem commanded him, why repeat that fact again?

Rabbi Aharon Walkin, an early 20th century Torah commentator, offered the following answer: There are many reasons why a person might choose to move from one place to another. Sometimes a person might leave because of familial reasons. Many times a person will move for financial reasons or because the neighborhood is not safe or proper anymore. The Torah is telling us that this was not the case with Abraham. He took his wife because he had no problems with her. Lot came along because Abraham had no family quarrels. He didn't go for financial reasons for Abraham took all of his wealth with him. As to Abraham leaving because of the possible bad influence of his neighbors, the Torah says that even much of the neighborhood Abraham took with him. In other words, the Torah is telling us of the greatness of Abraham - that he left purely to fulfill the wishes of Hashem.

There is one other place in the Torah that the special phrase introducing this test, lech lecha - go for yourself, is used. That is at the last trial that Hashem puts Abraham through, the Akeidah, or binding of Isaac, at the end of next week's Torah portion. Hashem commands, "Please take your son, your only one, whom you love - Isaac - and go for yourself (lech lecha) to the land of Moriah" (Genesis 22:2). Without any questions or hesitation, Abraham follows Hashem's bidding completely and faithfully without any change in attitude.

At first glance it seems that the first and last test are the same. Is there any difference between the lech lecha in this week's portion and the lech lecha in next week's Torah portion? The Reishah Rav, a 19th century Chassidic rebbe, gives a fascinating explanation. In this week's portion we see how Abraham relates to the will and command of Hashem. In next week's portion we see how Abraham passed this lesson down to his son. Abraham's life has little meaning until he sees that the same devotion and dedication that he has for Hashem is also present in his son Isaac. That is why the first and last tests seem similar. Abraham has come full circle in his service of Hashem. This is the legacy and inheritance that we have when we say that we are the children of Abraham. Our steadfastness in keeping the mitzvot of Hashem no matter when or where we may find ourselves. May we all merit to be called Bnei Avraham, children of Abraham.

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Rabbi Norman Schloss writes from Atlanta.

You are invited to read more Parshat Lech Lecha articles.

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