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 of the Chaldees to go to the Land of Canaan, and they came as far as Haran and settled there. And the days of Terach were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. And HASHEM said to Avram: ‘Go for yourself from your country, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. (Breishis 11:31-32 -12:1)
It’s a source of great curiosity. Before Avram was told to go-Lech Lecha, he had already started a journey to the Land of Canaan but the mission stalled out. What was different about the 2nd effort that delivered him and his entourage to the desired destination? In the first aborted and failed attempt they were clearly aiming for the Land of Canaan. In the successful venture Avram is not even told where to go? Why was he not informed about where it was that he should go? Oddly he arrived at that place this time without aiming! Why? What’s the meaning of the message coded into those launching instructions, “Lech Lecha”? Why was he told to go to your – self? “Go”-Lech would have sufficed!
Here is the story of Lech Lecha, a current, modern version though. More than a year ago my daughter came home from a year of seminary in Eretz Yisrael. That experience woke up and lit a flame of longing for the Land of Israel that is either dormant or volcanic in every Jew’s heart. She spoke about getting married and returning to Israel as if it would just happen by wishing. However, upon returning, nothing was prepared. There was no groom or job to be handed like a diploma after graduating from school. It was a process of starting a new stage of life, a blank page, with no clear map or curriculum. It was scary and overwhelming. Every choice precluded another choice and in some arenas there were no choices. I wanted to guide her somehow. With help from Heaven, I coined a phrase for her that promoted courage to start and keep going even without knowing where it might lead. “It doesn’t matter where you begin! If you keep on going, you will end up where you need to be!”
I even searched for and attached a picture concretize the concept. I copied and pasted a picture of a baby taking early or first steps. The mother’s arms are seen reaching out. The child clumsily and desperately strides towards her outstretched hands. I put it in a frame and hung it in her room. Within a short time she landed a job in a local medical center called Refuah Health.
After about one year, Boruch HASHEM, she merited meeting her Chosson, and after they decided to give Israel a try, her American job offered her the opportunity to continue to work remotely in Israel. Now she is married and living and working in Israel while her husband continues learning Torah. Wow! Who could have foreseen of planned any part of this?! Afterwards we looked back hauntingly at that charming epithet, “It doesn’t matter where you begin. If you keep on going, you will end up where you need to be.”
It seems that Avram is not told to aim for a geographical location. Rather he is to rid himself of the old and safe assumptions first and to go to himself as he moves forward. Discover you’re the wellsprings of your true spiritual self and then you will magnetically be drawn to the desired place. It was not an outward journey but an inner direction that delivered Avram.
Now maybe we can find new meaning in an old bad joke. A fellow complained to his doctor of an unusual problem he was having. “Doc, every time I take one step forward, I take two steps backward!”The doctor pondered the man’s curious condition. “Hmmmmm” – and then he asked with great puzzlement, “If that’s the case, then how did you get here?” The man answered,”Doctor, you are absolutely right. It’s a great question. Actually I have been trying to get here for years. I finally gave up and went home!”
Now, if we want to get to our “home” we need to keep going and getting to a healthier place.Avram too was frustrated getting to the Land of Israel, till he discovered an inner door leading us all through the eternal port of entry.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.