Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Attracted to Holiness (Lech Lecha)

A soul without a high aim is like a ship without a rudder. — Eileen Caddy

Abraham is famously directed by God to leave his homeland and venture to the land of Canaan, a land that God would bequeath to Abraham and his descendants. However, what is perhaps less noticed, is that a few verses before God’s directive to Abraham, the Torah tells us how Terach, Abraham’s father, takes his family from their homeland, from Ur of the Chaldeans and heads to Canaan. However, Terach’s journey ends when they arrive in the town of Haran, before entering the land of Canaan. It is only Abraham, later, who successfully enters Canaan.

The Bat Ayin on Genesis 12:1 wonders as to what the cause of the apparent false start was. Why does Abraham’s family, when accompanied by his father Terach head towards Canaan, before God commands it; why are they initially unsuccessful in entering and why later, does Abraham, without Terach, succeed?

He explains that while still in Ur of the Chaldeans Abraham started to perceive the holiness of the land of Canaan. He ventures west, attracted by the holiness of Canaan, independently of God’s command. His father Terach, seeing Abraham’s efforts, is taken up by the spiritual journey and he too seeks the holiness of Canaan. However, upon reaching the town of Haran, in close proximity to Canaan, they realize something that gives them pause. They come to the conclusion that though they’re attracted to the holiness, they don’t feel themselves worthy of entering the land. They are not yet at a level where they could fully connect with the inherit holiness of the land.

It is then, after God’s command, that Abraham redoubles his spiritual efforts and realizes that he needs to divest himself of his material, worldly attachments. Only with a pure spiritual focus can one fully connect to the inherent holiness of the land. Abraham succeeds in reaching that spiritual level, that focus on the transcendent and that connection with God. He is then worthy of entering the land and claiming its spiritual and material bounty for himself and his descendants.

May we take advantage of the road to holiness our forefathers already paved for us and bequeathed to us and connect to the holiness of the land of Israel.

Shabbat Shalom,



To democracy.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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