Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir צילום: אייל בן יעיש

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin (

I am writing from the election night studio, in the middle of a broadcast. I found in the course of this long night a comment from *Rabbi Chaim Navon* regarding this week's Torah portion. He reminds us that political leadership is important, but there is another kind of leadership, no less important, as described below:

4,000 years ago, an old man and an old woman departed from Haran, which is thought to have been where modern-day Turkey is, for the land of Canaan. Presumably the people living at that time did not think much of this. The headlines of the day, as usual, were all about kings and their wars, ministers and their intrigues.

If anyone had known anything about this old and childless man, it would have been a source of mockery. Yet who had even heard of him, or later on about his descendants and their tiny nation, about their strange faith.

But today, no one remembers the kings and the ministers of the Middle East in those days, but everyone remembers that old man. Nearly four billion men and women in the world see themselves as followers of Avraham Avinu."

In the days ahead, we will be preoccupied with political leadership, which is always extremely temporary. But this week's Torah portion reminds us, instead, to contemplate the educational and spiritual leadership of Avraham, whose influence is eternal.

Abraham was commanded to go forth, but also into his own soul

When delivering lectures in English, I find it difficult to translate "Lech lecha." This command, spoken to Avraham in this week's Torah portion, is composed of two words that look the same (לך לך) but are different. And this is not a command like "Lech le'Yerushalayim" (Go to Jerusalem) or "Lech le'Tel Aviv" (Go to Tel Aviv). Our commentators explain that this command is meant for you to go into yourself (lecha), into your soul.

The first two words spoken to the first Jew are a command to move, to go, but above all to look inside. Only then will it be possible to go out into the world and bring others closer to God.

Avraham is commanded to find his purpose, to be the best version of himself. In the Torah commentary "Sefat Emet," a revolutionary idea is expressed: "The command of 'Lech lecha' is spoken constantly by God to everyone, but Avraham Avinu actually heard, internalized, and acted upon it."

In other words, this call for self-actualization resonates in the world all the time. We need only tune in to its frequency. To us as well, the descendants of Avraham Avinu, the command of "Lech lecha" is given. Even at this very moment.

May we merit to hear it as he did.

So then, what's your "Lech lecha" story?*

Aliyah Day., by statute, is observed in Israel during the week in which we read about the aliyah of Avraham Avinu to Eretz Yisrael in parashat Lech Lecha. Avraham Avinu was the first person to arrive here and call it home, followed by millions who did the same over the next several thousand years. *Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler* describes how Avraham directed his compass to a place that serves as a powerful magnet for us all.

*"All of Avraham Avinu's tests were meant to straighten the path before us to Eretz Yisrael. Every awakening of a person to suddenly go to the Holy Land originates in the command of 'Lech lecha' -- literally, 'go to yourself.' And, in truth, how wonderful is the love in our hearts for this land from which we were exiled for two thousand years.*

*Our nationalism is not like that of other nations. If it were, heaven forbid, the Holy Land would have long been forgotten from our hearts, as is the case with other nations that were exiled for a long time from their homelands. Instead, the love for our land depends on its holiness, a holiness that is imbued within us since it is an inheritance for our souls from Avraham Avinu, who practiced self-sacrifice in living up to the command of 'Lech lecha.'"*

Think about your individual and family aliyah stories. It's a way to honor the "Lech lecha" road first taken in this week's Torah portion, a road that has continued to be traveled until today.