Lech-Lecha: The Journey of Self-Awareness

Traveling in the Desert (Pixabay)

We have lived with ourselves all of our lives, but how many of us can claim to know ourselves? It is paramount that we start exploring and understanding ourselves because we are going to be together forever.

In Parshat Lech-Lecha, Avraham famously embarks on his journey from his home, following Hashem every step of the way. This, of course, is the physical traveling which we all know, but there is another, more discreet element at work.

Our parsha begins as, “Hashem said to Avram, ‘Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you’” (Bereishis 12:1). It is noteworthy to acknowledge the unique order of Hashem’s instruction. It seems to be reversed from how the sequence of his travels would actually progress; in reality, he would first depart from his father’s home, then the city of his birthplace, and finally pass through the borders of his land.

The Tur HaAroch explains that the challenge became increasingly difficult for Avraham, and the order was intended to reflect that; leaving his home was more difficult than leaving his land.

HaKesav VeHaKabalah explains that the above pasuk reflects the spiritual journey taken by Avraham. He says that Avraham was asked to shatter his world, to start his life anew like a newborn baby.
Rabbi David Aaron developed this idea of his journey so magnificently. Avraham, he explained, was being asked to strip himself of his worldly identity. Avraham discovered that his character of this world was not his true essence. Identifying himself with this world—whether from his country, city, or father’s home—was denying the truth of his true nature. Avraham stopped identifying with the physicality of this world because he knew that his true, soulful self could only find its value from Hashem.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Chabad.org explained Avraham’s spiritual journey was ultimately to connect to the divine essence of his soul.

We would be remiss to believe that this is unique to Avraham because it is the reality for each and every one of us; we are all souls inherently connected to Hashem and that is the truth of the self. That is how to discover our unconditional self-worth.

“When we forget the individual soul, when we stop paying attention to the inner life of a person,” Rav Kook wrote, “everything becomes confusing and unclear.” He also said that “Understanding oneself is the highest level of spirituality” (Shmoneh Kevatzim 8:213 and 5:281, respectively)

Avraham tuned into his self; he reached an awareness of himself as divine soul and consequently lived his authentic life with clarity and focus, to say the least. Avraham must have been the embodiment of “the highest level of spirituality,” as Rav Kook describes.

This is not something to be taken lightly. How do we define ourselves? Life often becomes blurred and confusing like a blinded windshield. Once we seriously begin our own spiritual journeys, we will reach a greater awareness of our true selves and achieve new spiritual heights.

About the Author
Sruli Fruchter studied for one year at Yeshivat Orayta and is now studying at Yeshiva University. He enjoys writing on a spectrum of topics, including the weekly parsha and the Palestinian-Israel conflict.
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