Esor Ben-Sorek

Lech l’cha… go forth. Get out

When we read the third chapter in Genesis (B’raishit) this Shabbat, we learn that God commanded Avram to leave his homeland and family in Ur of the Chaldees (Mesopotamia) and travel to a new and unknown place. He basically told Avram to “Get out. Go away. Scram out of here.”

If only God could repeat the very same command to Prime Minister Netanyahu. “Get out. Go away. Scram.” If only…………. !

But even if God could convey that heavenly message to Bibi, it is certain that Bibi would not hear it nor want to hear it. He is deaf to God’s commands.

The Biblical story of Avram (before God changed his name to Avraham) has several rabbinical interpretations.

The Chief Rabbi of England, Rabbi Sacks, comments on four of them.

Rashi translates Lech L’cha as “journey for yourself”. It meant that Avraham should give up his past in order to acquire a future. Leaving one’s home and parents, the birthplace so familiar to him, becomes a journey into the unknown. Yet Avraham placed his trust in the voice of an invisible God.

A second midrashic interpretation of the command is “Go with yourself. Travel from place to place with Sarai (Sarah) and teach the world of the existence of One God, Creator of the universe”.

The third interpretation is rather mystical. Rabbi David of Levlov understood it to mean “Go to yourself”. Do not try to be like others. Be only you…only yourself.

There is a story of Rabbi Zushya of Hanipol. He said “When I get to heaven they will not ask me “why were you not like Moses?” They will ask me, “Zushya, why were you not Zushya”? Go to yourself means being only yourself, not someone else.

In the fourth interpretation it was stated that the true meaning of Lech L’cha was to ”Go by yourself”.

Only when a person can be alone is he unique and one who worships God who is alone serves God who is One and unique.

We do not truly know why God chose Avram from among all the people in Ur. Monotheism, the idea that there is only one God, was born in ancient Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhnatan. He destroyed all the idols of the Egyptian gods and declared that there was only one true god. For him, it was the sun god.

As the idea of one God travelled in the Levant and down to Assyria and Babylonia, it appeared to Avram in a dream and he became the father of the Hebrew religion…” Hashem Elohenu Hashem Echad… the Lord who is Our God, that God is One.”

The uniqueness of chapter 3 in the first book of the Torah emphasizes the greatness of Avraham who was willing to leave everything he had behind him… family, home, wealth, security… and together with his wife he made the long and arduous journey to the land which God had promised him.

Now, our prime minister should be prepared to leave his home in Jerusalem and, blessed with family, much wealth and continued security, he can enter his new home in beautiful Caesarea by the Sea… a place of quietude which God did not promise him.

He must take his wife (another and very different Sara) and his painful son Yair and follow not only God’s command but that of the voices of the people of Israel.. “Lech L’cha”… get out. Go away. Scram.

If the prime minister opens his ears he may hear the voices of our people. Lech L’cha, Bibi. Lech L’cha soon !

I wish him no harm. He should enjoy good health away from all the tensions. But he should understand that it’s time to go.

As one of my German language professors used to tell me: “Geh mit Gott…aber geh !! Go with God…. but GO !!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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