Lech Lecha: Coming Home

Your essence lies in the Land of Israel.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7

Rashi explains the phrase lech l’cha (literally: “go to yourself”) to mean, “for your good and for your benefit.” Rabbi Moshe Alshikh (16th Century) comments that in addressing Abraham with the words lech l’cha, God was telling
What was true for the first Jew is true for his descendants.
him: "Know that you cannot be the same person outside the Holy Land as you are in the Land; do not think that your essence abroad and within the Land are the same."

Alshikh explains that man’s ideal is to maintain a connection with his spiritual roots, a connection that a Jew cannot maintain fully outside of Israel. Thus, Abraham’s journey to Israel, says Alshikh, was a spiritual one, the purpose of which was for Abraham to link up with his spiritual roots and his true self. This, Alshikh suggests, is the meaning of lech l’cha: it is to yourself that you go when you travel to Israel.

Alshikh’s comment can be seen as a rephrasing, or perhaps an expansion, of Rashi’s words. Put into our parlance, Alshikh explains that Abraham’s journey to Israel is a journey of self-discovery and self-fulfillment.

What was true for the first Jew is true for his descendants as well.

Further, Alshikh notes that the Torah always uses the root word bo ("come"), never the root haloch (to "walk", to "go"), when speaking of coming to the Land of Israel. The reason, explains Alshikh, is that the spiritual roots of the People of Israel are to be found in the Holy Land. Thus, a Jew does not “go” to the Land, rather he or she “comes” into the Land, in the sense of coming home. It is as if the essential being of the Jewish people (and of the individual Jew) can be achieved only in their national land.

Apparently, God’s first words to Abram, “Go [lech l’cha] from your land... to the land I shall show you” (Genesis 12:1), in which God uses the root haloch, contradicts Alshikh’s approach. However, we can understand the use of lech because this was Abram’s first journey to the Holy Land. It was this trip which revealed to Abram his spiritual roots in “the land of the Hebrews.”

For Abram to discover his spiritual roots, it was necessary to “go” to the Land. For Abram’s descendants to reconnect with their spiritual roots, it is necessary to “come” to the Land.
David Magence writes from Jerusalem.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.