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The Turbulent Journey - לך לך

Friday, 30 October, 2020 - 2:03 pm

The Turbulent Journey 

Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, set out on a journey that would, eventually,  change the world. He left Charan, heeding G-d’s call to "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1). Abraham must have been full of optimism, he was armed with an incredible Divine promise, for G-d had told him: “And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.”

Yet, Abraham’s journey seemed to be a disaster and a colossal disappointment. As soon as he reached the land of Cannan, a famine broke out and he was forced to descend to Egypt where his wife was abducted and brought to Pharaoh the king. This was not only a personal challenge, but it was also a terrible blow to Abraham’s mission of spreading the awareness of the one G-d. The pagan inhabitants of Cannan took note of the fact that the terrible famine broke out as soon as Abraham arrived. They must have thought that the famine was a sign from above that Abraham’s faith would bring nothing but trouble. 

Why was Abraham’s journey so complicated and full of frustration? Why wasn't Abraham rewarded for his loyalty with a tranquil existence in Canaan?  The same question applies to the Jewish people, the descendants of Abraham, who carry Abraham’s legacy of teaching the world about the one G-d. Why has our historical journey been so full of disappointment, challenge, and tragedy? 

The Answer can be found in the name of our Torah portion: Lech Licha, which means “go to you ”. The name of the entire portion, including the parts of the story that seem to be a retreat from Abraham’s destination and purpose, are all critical to the journey of growth. The most important message to Abraham, as well as to his descendants, is that what looks like a devastating setback is, in reality, an opportunity for more meaningful growth. Yes, even the descent into Egypt, with all its negative ramifications, would ultimately lead to Abraham and Sarah emerging stronger, and better able to achieve their purpose and mission. The descent into Egypt, was part of the mission of ascent  to Israel. 

This is true in the life of each and every Jew. The first, and perhaps, primary message from the life of Abraham is that every disappointment can be an opportunity for reaching deeper joy, every setback can become a springboard, and every challenge can motivate profound growth. 

This is the essence of the life of Abraham, the essence of the Jewish story, and of the teachings of the Torah: no matter the circumstances, no matter the pain, every experience is part of the journey to discover our essence. Within every challenging experience is a spark of G-dliness waiting to be elevated and channeled to fuel us further on our journey of reaching our promised land. 

(Adapted from Likutei Sichos 5, Lech Licha 1) 


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