Lech L’cha (Go to yourself)

Lech L'chaGenesis 12:1 to 17:27

This text introduces Abram – or Abraham as he is called later. Torah then details the life, successes, and beliefs of Abram after his direct contact with the Eternal.

“Go to yourself’” – This seems like an unusual combination of words. How can I go to myself?…. I’m with me all day long. Sometimes I would like to leave; but, this would be impossible.

So what does this phrase mean? … Maybe the opening words of the this week’s text provide a clue: “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. I will bless those who bless you, and I will pronounce doom on those who curse you; through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)

Maybe “Go to yourself” is another way of saying “set your life’s direction.” In the text God tells Abram to go to a new place…. The rest of this week’s text continues through a great portion of Abram’s life. We discover how Abram’s life is influenced by these words from God. All through his life, Abram shows his faith in the Eternal. He follows all the directions that God gives. Abram has total faith… a complete belief in his God.

However, Torah doesn’t provide a complete story of Abram’s life. When Abram left the land of his birthplace and father’s home he was 75 years old. (Gen. 12:4) Midrash stories create a background for these life-changing decisions. These stories tell us that when Abram was very young he tried to worship the sun. He saw that it rose every day and set every day. There was no variation. Then, at night the sun was replaced by the moon which also followed a set pattern. Abram reasoned that there must be a power greater than the sun and moon. He thought there must a be a more powerful God in control.

Another story that we all know tells us that Abram broke his father’s Idols. When asked by his father how it happened, Abram blamed one of the larger idols. His father said that it was impossible, the idol couldn’t move. Abram saw this as proof that his God was the true God…. the God with power.

There are other stories that state that Abram left his land because his beliefs were different than most people and these views put him in danger.

But, these are Midrash tales…. After reading these Midrash tales, this writer asks; Does the Torah’s Abram story contain more truth than these stories? Maybe the Torah’s Abram is not a single man; but, a story about a group of people who had faith in God. And what we are reading is the story of the birth of our faith…. but, presented in a format of a single person to make the story more dramatic.

This writer also wonders was it God who discovered Abram – the true believer…… or was it Abram who found (or created) a God to help understand the world in which he lived. (This Abram could be a single person who taught his beliefs to others …. or a group of people with the same belief). Then, whether it was God who found Abram… or Abram who created God in his own mind… Abram continued his life with a strong belief and faith in this God. This belief in God continues to be the central theme throughout Torah.

Maybe the meaning of “Go to yourself” is that each of us should look to our beliefs and shape our lives to fulfill these ideas. Torah tells us that our beliefs should be God-focused. So, according to this text, the beliefs, laws and commandments of the Eternal should be the focus and direction of our lives… Just as these beliefs were for Abram.

Earl Sabes

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