Was Lech Lecha a mitzva to Abraham?

Did G-d command, suggest or advise Abraham to go to Canaan?

Steven Genack

Judaism Torah reading
Torah reading

There’s a concept brought down in in Eruvin (31b) that mitzvos lav lehenos nitnu, mitzvos were not given for pleasure. Yet Rashi explains that when G-d told Avraham to go from his land, it was “for [his] benefit and for [his] good.” Is G-d perhaps negating the rule of mitzvos lav lehenos nitnu – mitzvos were not given to be pleasurable -  for Avraham is gaining pleasure from obeying G-d’s command.

Perhaps Lech Lecha isn’t a true Mitzvah, only a command, for it’s not counted as one of the 613 mitzvos, but still the question seems to resound as a command from G-d likely falls under the rubric of a Mitzva.

It has been suggested that of course one gets pleasure from a Mitzva, only it’s the eternal reward that is the true pleasure. Yet, here, G-d seems to contradict this notion by guaranteeing great wealth and fame to Avraham “in this world” for leaving his birthplace.

Perhaps it may be argued that G-d was giving "counsel" to Avraham. But, why did Avraham merit to receive "warm" counsel from the Almighty that wasn’t under the rubric of a command?

There's a Medrash that says that at a very young age Avraham discovered G-d, like one who saw a light burning in a castle and was drawn to it. Avraham had the imagination to see G-d where no one else could. 

Furthermore, he defied his own father in the name of G-d. This is an act that surpasses nature and in return he's saved miraculously from a burning fire, a phenomenon above nature as well. 

He also defied the world order at the time, by abstaining from idol worship, yet welcomed the world to convert under his auspices. 

Perhaps the lesson from Avraham is that if you recognize G-d clearly, show unbridled love to the Creator and bring the masses to convert, you gain a great "Advisor."

G-d counseled Avraham to begin a journey that would bring him wealth and fame due to his friendship with him.

May we all strive to mimic the actions of Avraham thereby becoming "peers" to the "Wonderous One" who can then put us on the path of securing wealth and fame.