The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” — Genesis 12:1
The Torah portion for this week, Lech Lecha, which means “go to yourself.” It is from Genesis 12:1–17:27, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 40:27–41:16.
In this week’s Torah portion, we are introduced to the man who started it all — Abraham. In the opening scene, Abraham heard a calling from the Almighty who told him to journey to an unknown land. Abraham heeded the call, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I’d like to tell you what this epic Torah portion is called, but there’s just one problem: It doesn’t translate easily into English. In Hebrew, the Torah portion is called “lech lecha.” Lech means “go,” as in “Go from your country . . .” Lecha means “to you.” And now we can understand why most translations leave that word out. It would read: “Go to you from your country . . . to the land that I will show you.” Now, that’s not exactly an easy read! What does it mean to “go to yourself”?
This is the story of a man who left everything behind in order to follow God. It’s the journey of a spiritual seeker searching for God. But God wants us to understand that in coming close to Him, we don’t lose ourselves. In fact it’s the opposite. When we find God, we discover our true selves.
The journey toward God may take you away from your comfort zone. You may be called to make changes in your life and try things that you have never done before. In Abraham’s case, he was asked to leave his birthplace, family, and friends. In short, everything that he knew. And he wasn’t even told where he would be going. Talk about leaving your comfort zone! But God was telling Abraham, “Trust me; you aren’t losing yourself. You are returning to who you really are.”
We can think about change in two ways. Imagine that you have a hunk of clay before you shaped into a simple human form. One way to change it is to mold it and paint it until it hardly resembles what it was before.
Now imagine that instead of changing the clay, you simply peel it off to reveal what’s beneath it. Imagine that under all of the gray stuff, you find gold. The new “person” is totally different from the lump of clay, but at the same time, that “person” has been there all along.
So too, when we find God, we uncover our true selves.
Can you hear God calling? What is He asking you to do? Whatever it may be, don’t be afraid of losing yourself. When you find God, you find the real you. So what are you waiting for? Follow Abraham’s lead and heed the call! Go on the path that you are called to travel. Go toward God. Go toward your soul. Go to your true self! Lech lecha.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President