Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Lech Lecha

God begins Avraham's career as the father of the Jewish people by commanding him to be a wanderer. In this, He heralds the future of the Jewish people. It has been for millennia that the appellation for the people of Israel is "the wandering Jew." Avraham will leave his home in Mesopotamia and head for the Land of Canaan. Then, he will travel to Egypt and then once again return to the land of Canaan. In that holy land, Avraham will wander from Chevron to Beersheva to the Philistine coast and to the Mountain of Moriah. He apparently does not stay put for any permanent stay, always moving or ready to move. What is the lesson of this wandering state of Avraham and of his descendants throughout the ages? Why, even when the Jew has seemingly struck deep roots in a country and its society, is there always a storm that pushes the Jew on to a new home and a different Land? In our century, Jewish Europe was decimated and almost completely destroyed. The Jewish wanderer has now settled mainly in North America and in Israel. Are these more or less permanent homes for us or are they also only temporary havens (God forbid)? Why was it the Jewish fate to be the wanderers of the world?

The commentaries to the Bible have dealt with this problem of wandering in Jewish history. The idea of wandering has been represented in terms of punishment for the sins of Israel; in terms of spreading Godliness and Torah ideas through out the world; and in terms of collecting spiritual souls that are scattered throughout the world and allowing them to become part of the eternal people of Israel. Other philosophical answers have also been advanced throughout the ages of Jewish scholarship. I am fascinated however by an insight mentioned by the great men of Mussar based upon the words of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman in his commentary to the beginning of the book of Bereshit. Their view is that the torah comes to teach us that all mankind, each and every one of us, is a wanderer. When Adam and Chava sin they are sent wandering from the paradise of Eden. When Kayin murders his brother he becomes a wanderer. When the brothers sell Yosef as a slave, they become wanderers. Yakov wanders to Aram and the house of Lavan. We are all wanderers. There is no permanence to any aspect of human life. The only permanence in the world is that God orchestrates man's fate according to man's behavior and actions. It is this realization of God's omnipotence and omniscience and man's impermanence and wanderings that Avraham is the first human to truly appreciate and that sets him apart and allows him to be the founder of the people of Israel.

The wanderings of Israel, which logically should have led long ago to our demise, instead served as the main lesson of Israel to the world. Namely, that the world belongs to God and not to man, and that man makes a grave error by assuming his permanence and security. The events of history constantly buffet and blindside us. Events always mock our assumptions and certainties. We are all wanderers in God's world. The echo of "lech lecha" can always be heard in the ears of our soul and deepest being. Then we are able to hear God's voice that speaks to us and we no longer need fear our status as wanderers in His world. Avraham travels the known world of civilization of his time, but he is not a lonely wanderer for he hears the heavenly voice within him that drives him. Avraham is not afraid of his impermanence, he is however well aware of it. The Jewish people throughout its history has been profoundly affected by its impermanence but it has remained the eternal people precisely because it appreciates God's control and man's wanderings. The Midrash tells us that God told Avraham to go forth "for your good and your benefit." That message has not changed in the 3500 years since Avraham left his home to find his destiny and shape all future human civilization.

Shabat Shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2000 Rabbi Berel Wein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

The Real $24,000 Question
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

So Much to Say
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Paradise Lost
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

> Immortal Teacher
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

The Laws of Kashrus: Is it techinical or something deeper?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Children are a Gift
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

They Can Assure a Cure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Careful Consideration of Chinuch Concessions
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5768

Placing The Partitions
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

ArtScroll

Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Rebuilding the Temple with Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Words, Words, and More Words
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

That's Not What Friends Are For
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Points to Ponder
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Table of Contents
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Harsh Hugs
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information