This week our Torah portion focuses in on the story of Abraham. We are
introduced to this man of faith when God calls to him and says: “Lech Lecha”
“Go, leave” and commands him to leave his homeland, his birth place, his
father’s house and to go to a land which God will show him. So Abraham, man
of faith, packs up his household, his wife and his nephew and heads off on his
journey. It has always intrigued me that God was very specific about the places
Abraham was to leave, his land, his birth place and his father’s house, but God
was much more hazy about where Abraham was going, God just says, “go to the place I will show you.” Why is God so obtuse about the destination?
Some of the commentators say that this was one of the tests of Abraham’s
faith; to see if he was willing to follow God even though he did not know
the destination. Others suggest that the eventual end of his travels was not
important, what was significant was the journey. And herein perhaps lies some
of the power and the message of this story.
The expression God uses to send Abraham on his journey “lech lecha” is
unusual. God could have just said: “lech” meaning “go” why add “lecha?”
The word lecha means “to yourself” rendering the passage “go to yourself”
and that is the heart of the command. Abraham is invited to go on a journey
of discovery, to find out who he is and on such a journey nobody knows the
ultimate destination and indeed the destination is not as important as the
travel. Sometimes in order to become all that we are we have to leave the
familiar, separate from the routine of life and be challenged. Abraham was
transformed by his journey and it shaped who he was as a human being.
Many of us do not have the opportunity to walk away from our lives and chase
an uncertain future. We have obligations and responsibilities which prevent
us taking the life-changing journey of Abraham. But we do have the chance
every week to step back from our lives, take stock and contemplate where we
are going: the Shabbat. Every Shabbat we are invited to take time away from
the stresses and pressures of our lives to think and just be. On Shabbat we
connect with each other and the world in a way which is not possible during
the week, we step outside of our lives and for 25 hours we rest and reflect, we
go on a journey. This week we are encouraged to experience the joys of Shabbat and like Abraham to “lech lecha,” to go on that journey to ourselves. But this is not once in a lifetime, or once a year, Shabbat comes every week and it is a beautiful
opportunity to take stock and touch a small piece of eternity to think about the
path we are travelling and the journey we are walking through life.
I hope that this Shabbat is for all of us to journey to ourselves and connect with
each other and community.