Parashat Lech Lechah- Go for yourself

This is the first revelation of the founding father of the Jewish people, when G-d told Abraham to leave his country, his birthplace and his family and go to the land which G-d would show him. R’ Munk wrote that this was the first step towards the realisation of Judaism. Abraham stood in opposition to the spirit of the times, and became the bearer of G-d’s message, throwing a protest in the face of the gods worshipped by the nations.


R’ Munk wrote that the land of Canaan was full of idols and paganism, but it was more suitable than Ur and Haran for receiving Abraham’s message. In Canaan, he could proclaim G-d’s name and build altars without being harassed and cursed as he was in the land of his birth.  Rashi noted that Abraham recognised G-d through his own intellectual investigation whereas Isaac and Jacob already had it as a family tradition.


As Abraham left, G-d blessed him with seven different blessings. R’ Munk wrote that this has a link with the sheva berachot that newlyweds receive as they leave their parents’ homes to start their new lives.


R’ Hirsch wrote that Abraham gave up his homeland, his rights of citizenship, and family name to become an outsider openly denying the gods worshipped by other nations. G-d’s blessing would reward him in greater measure for all the things he gave up. G-d’s promise was “I will make of you a great nation” which R’ Hirsch interpreted as G-d making it plain that He Himself is the Creator of Israel in conditions and natural circumstances which would be against the formation of a nation.


In another revelation in this parasha, the Brit bayn Habtarim, the covenant between the parts, G-d promised land to Abraham’s descendants after they had been slaves. This land would extend from the Nile to the Euphrates River. R’ Hirsch wrote that Abraham’s descendants would become a nation through G-d, that they would inherit the uniting element  from Abraham.


Yohanan Aharoni (1) wrote that the land referred to here is the Patriarchal region. The boundaries varied at different times in Jewish history, but that no other name became permanently attached to the land throughout its long history other than Israel.   


(1)   The Archaeology of the Land of Israel , Yohanan Aharoni 1982.

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One thought on “Parashat Lech Lechah- Go for yourself

  1. Thanks for your Parasha column with its implications for the extent of the land.
    Yehoshua Leibowitz also spoke to this subject when he wrote controversially in 1968 that religious arguments for the annexation of the territories were unconvincing in that whilst being a “great and impressive national achievement for every nationally conscious Jew whether religious or secular,the conquest itself has no religious significance…..Jewish sovereignty over the territories of the Land of Israel is a purely political fact, not the tradition of generations who aspired to the restoration of Jewish sovereignty on the land of Israel only in conjunction with the restoration of the sovereignty of the Torah”. (from Judaism,Human values and the Jewish state,Yeshayahu Leibowitz edited by Eliezer Goldman 1992).

    In this book, Leibowitz also wrote that “not every return to Zion was a religiously significant achievement eg the prophet Yirmiyahu 2:7 “when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination”.Leibowitz argued that holiness of the land derives from the practice of the Mitzvot associated with the land but was not intrinsic to the land itself. “Nationalism and patriotism are not religious values”.He quoted the words of the prophet Ezekiel “say to those who say that the land was given to us as an inheritance “you eat with the blood,lift up your eyes towards your idols and shed blood and shall you possess the land?” His point was that “to speak of the divine promise to Abraham and his descendants, and to ignore the conditions of the promise, and to disregard the obligations it confers on the receivers is a degradation of the religious faith”.