Lech L’cha – Genesis 12:1 to 17:17: Abraham responds to a calling of God to “Go forth from his land” to a place that God will show him. What did Abraham hear? and where was he actually going? ——————
“The Eternal One said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land, your birthplace, 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 it shall be a blessing…’ So Abram went forth as the Eternal had told him…. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, his brother’s son Lot, all the possession they had amassed, and the people they acquired in Haran. They set forth for the Land of Canaan, and they arrived in the land of Canaan…” (Gen. 12:1-5)
God called out…. And the answer from Abram (soon to be Abraham after a name change) – in so many words – was Hineini – I am here. Even thought Abram doesn’t respond with the exact word of “Hineini” – the theme of this year’s Life Long Learning program – it was his answer to God’s call.
Now, I’m not sure whether this call came from an external voice that Abram heard or from that small, quiet voice that originates from within a person’s being. But, I do know that Abram responded to a calling from a power that was new to the world around him. The call was to “go forth” from the place that he was in…. to a new place that he would learn about in the future. This was to be a totally different place from his land (all the customs and laws he observed) … from his birthplace (all the traditions of his parents and their parents) … from his house (everything he held important in the decisions he made for himself, his family, and his servants)…. All this, at age 75!
And Abram’s answer was … I am here, I am ready, and I will follow the God I believe. I am willing to go in a direction leading toward a world that is greater and more important than the world in which I am currently living. And all my actions from this moment will reflect that decision.
The title of this week’s parsha, at first doesn’t seem to make sense. “Go to You” … or “Go for You.” How is that possible? I am already in the same place as I am…. How can I go there? I am there. But, are we always there? Sometimes a person must make a life-changing decision, or maybe, a decision that goes against what they commonly believe. That person must mentally wrestle to determine a final outcome. He or she must find a path… or, as the parsha’s title suggests -“Go to yourself” – for the answer. This is exactly what Abram did. And for the next few weeks we will read about the results of this decision.
Are these “Hineini” decisions always right? Probably not. Wrong decisions are made. But, if no decisions or no changes are made, the current conditions will never change. Abram heard a voice that told him he was to have a “great name,” his offspring will become a “great nation,” and his life would become a “blessing.” He saw that he could change both his world and the world around him. He had faith both in his decision and the God to which he responded.
This I believe is what “Hineini” is all about…. First, the ability to stop and listen to the call to action …. Second, analyze the results of the action being requested…. Third, to have faith that the decision reached is correct…. And, lastly, take the steps to implement the needed changes.
Now, maybe the decision made is not correct. So, another step should be added…. That of looking back after a decision has been made to confirm that it, in fact, it was correct.
As we look at the Abram/Abraham story over the next few weeks … and at all the stories of Genesis… we can discuss whether the chosen path was correct. But, I am sure that we will all agree that concept of Abram … to repair the world in which he lived … was a correct decision. Abram heard the call; he answered “I am here.” And he acted. That is the story of Lech L’cha.