Abraham, at the outset of the parshah is told to go and travel to a land that God will show him. G-d promises to make him a great nation, to bless him and to make his name great, so that he will be a blessing for all. It is interesting to note that Abraham had no idea where he was going! And what is this blessing he is promised? The Or Hachayim (Rabbi Chayim Ben Attar) explains that this additional blessing was to compensate Avraham for God purposefully not telling him his destination. Rabbi Attar explains that this was a tremendous and very difficult test. Not only did Avraham have to leave his home and all the people he knew, but he was travelling blind not knowing even the country he was bound for. The fact that Avraham did not question God and just accepted to undertake this journey demonstrates what a true Tzaddik he was and how worthy he was of Hashem’s blessings. That is why Avraham encountered success wherever he went- his total faith was unparalleled and therefore recognized by Hashem.
“And it occurred, as he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘See now, I have known that you are a woman of beautiful appearance. And it shall occur, when the Egyptians will see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife!’ – then they will kill me…’ ” (12:11-12) How was it possible that only now Avraham recognized Sarah’s beauty? The Arizal says that up till this point in time Avraham had no
concept of physicality – like Adam before he sinned. However, as he approached Egypt, the world center of decadence, even his lofty spiritual level lessened when he perceived good and evil – the domain of physicality. Sensing this change in himself, Avraham recognized the depths of impurity that was Egypt. He now sensed that it was indeed possible for man to sink to murder in order to satisfy his physical desires.
The following is a quote from the the Vilna Gaon: “In every generation new barriers need to be erected, for every generation is less than its predecessor and the eruv rav (descendents of the Egyptians who left Egypt at the time of
the Exodus) grow stronger. Therefore, it is necessary to barricade anew the breaches (in morality) perpetrated by the eruv rav. This is what the Torah means when it says “Guard my guardings!” (Vayikra 29:9)
Rabbi Chaim Zvi Center explains: Like Avraham, the closer we get to our own little Egypts – the larger our cars, our houses and our physical well-being loom in our lives – the more we know that we need to build
stronger and stronger fences against a world that celebrates immorality and conspicuous consumption.
Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair comments: ” Life’s essential journey is that of the soul discovering its true identity. We learn this from the first two words in this week’s Torah portion. “Lech Lecha.” “Go to yourself.” Without vowels, these two words are written identically. When G-d took Avraham out of Ur Kasdim and sent him to the Land of Israel, He used those two identical words —Lech Lecha —“Go to yourself.” Spiritual growth requires the soul to journey. Our soul must notch up the miles, not our feet. The spiritual road requires us to forsake the comfortable, the familiar ever repeating landmarks of our personalities, and set out with an open mind and a humble soul. We must divest ourselves of the fawning icons of our own egos which we define and confine us — and journey. Avraham experienced ten tests in his spiritual journey. Each was exquisitely designed to elevate him to his ultimate spiritual potential. When G-d gives us a test, whether it’s the death of a loved one or a financial reversal or an illness, it’s always to help us grow. By conquering the obstacles that lie in our spiritual path – be it lack of trust in G-d or selfishness or apathy — we grow in stature. We connect with the fundamental purpose of the journey — to journey away from our negative traits and reach and realize our true selves. We ‘go to ourselves’. “
Prepared by Devorah Abenhaim