July 18, 2024
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Go Forth To the Land That I Will Show You

“The Lord said to Avram, ‘Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.’” (Bereishit 12:1-2).

Chazal saw this one of the ten tests God gave to Avraham. What about going to the Land of Israel is a great test?

One obvious difficulty is the disconnection from his father’s house—leaving his country, his homeland.

However, there is another difficulty in Avraham’s journey to Eretz Yisrael—entering into the unknown. Chanan Porat related that during the War of Attrition, he was stationed in the Suez Canal with the Paratroopers Brigade. They were constantly under attack from the Egyptians. One day, the lieutenant colonel split them into two groups. One group was to go to a certain place and wait there in ambush. To the other group, he simply relayed: “Go towards the Egyptians, and you will get detailed instructions as you walk.” The second group was more concerned than the first, as they did not know where to go! They had to solely rely on the commander on the walkie-talkie to lead them the right way.

And so it is with Avraham’s test. The test is greater when it comes to the unknown—“the land which I will show you.”

Why didn’t God reveal to Avraham where to go? Why did He only tell him “to the land that I will show you?”

One possibility is that this statement is part of the test—walking after God into the unknown.

Chazal add that God did not reveal the place in order to enhance it in the eyes of Avraham; to increase Avraham’s desire for the unknown place. The wait increases the expectation, the discovery of the surprise that lies at the end.

I would like to suggest a possible third explanation of why God did not reveal the place to Avraham in advance. The fact that Avraham does not know where to go, but always depends on God’s guidance, forces him to constantly be connected to God. God is his GPS! He leads him, He guides him, He is with him all the time. Where is Avraham going? To the place that God leads him!

God says to Avraham “lech lecha” and then the Torah describes that Avraham does go. Why does the Torah add “and Avram went as the Lord had commanded him?” Perhaps this comes to emphasize that this walk is not the same journey that began before parshat Lech Lecha (which was also in the direction of the land of Canaan) but a journey by God’s command. Not only was the destination God’s will, not only was the land of Canaan the mission, but also the journey itself was God’s will. If Avraham had known in advance where to go, he would have drawn a map that would have guided him on how to reach his destination. Instead, he needs guidance on where to go.

From here we learn that not only are the results important in life, but also the way in which we arrive at the results. Not just the goal and the destination, but how you reach the goal. Do you reach it in a crooked way, by trampling another, or do you reach it in the way of God, in a moral way, in a way of holiness and purity?

Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon is founder and chairman of Sulamot, and serves as rosh yeshiva of Lev Academic Center (JCT) and rabbi of Alon Shvut South. He is the head of World Mizrachi’s Shalhevet educational advisory board and a member of Mizrachi’s Speakers Bureau. (www.mizrachi.org/speakers).

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