Go to yourself!
Lekh L’Kha (Go to Yourself) B’resheet/Genesis12:1-17:27
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
This week we read a portion that should speak to each of us in our spiritual walk. This portion starts in Genesis 12:1 with the word of G-d coming to Abraham telling him to, “Go to yourself.” Oddly, Avraham had already left his home of origin when his father Terah took his family, including Avraham, Sarah and Lot, from Ur of the Chaldeans and traveled to Haran. It is interesting that scripture points out that Terah was headed for Canaan but stopped in Haran and stayed there until his death. (Genesis 11:31-32) There is no mention of Terah hearing from G-d or that being a factor in his decision to leave Ur.
However, when we come to Genesis 12:1 we see Avraham heard directly from G-d Almighty and heeded God’s call. Amazingly, G-d did not give him an address to go to. He only said go to a land I will show you. We do not see that Avraham questioned G-d at all. He heard and he obeyed the call. G-d does not only speak to us about moving to a new location. Other times He might ask us to move outside what is comfortable for us and do something we have never done before. It could be something challenging that we do not know the end result when we take that first step in obeying G-d. But we can be sure when G-d calls us and we obey we are moving closer to who G-d created us to be.
As Avraham and Sarah were on their journey G-d did an interesting thing. In Genesis 17:5 G-d added a letter to Avraham’s name. He did the same to Sarah’s name in Genesis 17:15. The letter G-d added to both their names was the same letter. It is the Hebrew letter hey. This letter appears twice in the holy name of G-d. So it seems, in these verses, G-d put His stamp of approval on Avraham and Sarah by changing their names to include this letter from His own name.
Now to the question I sent you this week. When we compare Avraham’s life with Adam, Cain and Noah what difference do we notice? When we read verses covering the temptation of Eve and Adam and the result of their sin what stands out to you? Adam denied any personal responsibility for his actions. He blamed Eve, and even blamed G-d for giving him the woman.
Let’s look at Cain’s response when he was confronted with the sin of killing his brother. He replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Again Cain denied any moral responsibility for his actions. Finally, let’s look at Noah. As far as what scripture tells us, before and during the flood Noah never reached out to the people around him. We do not see him trying to save anyone but family. Noah never expressed any responsibility for his neighbors or others around him.
Now, let’s look at Avraham’s reactions when confronted with similar issues. Unlike Adam, Avraham heard G-d’s personal command to him and he set out on this journey. He set out to do the will of G-d, not even knowing where it might take him or what difficulties he would experience on the way.
Unlike Cain he accepted moral responsibility and in Genesis 14:14 he took action to rescue his nephew Lot from the war of the kings. Avraham knew he was his brother’s (nephew’s) keeper. He understood we have a moral responsibility not only to ourselves but to others as well.
Avraham even felt a responsibility for people he did not know when he prayed for the people of Sodom even though they were ungodly people. He prayed in the hope that there were some righteous and innocent people among the ungodly.
In all these cases Avraham exhibited traits that we see over and over in Torah and also in the Messianic scriptures. As the people of G-d we are called to “go to ourselves.” We are called to seek out G-d’s will for our lives, to overcome any prejudices we have that would prevent us from following G-d. We are to go outside of who we were and instead, move toward what G-d’s will is, what G-d’s best is for us. We have to overcome the impulse to judge people and rely on the fact that we are all in the image of G-d.
This Torah portion is always my favorite of all we read. It reminds me of what G-d has done for me and the responsibility I have to look at people in light of what G-d can do, what He desires to do for them as well. I pray each of you will spend time reflecting on what it means for you to personally go to yourself. Think about how far down that road you have traveled and what will it take for you to become what G-d has meant for you to be? It is never too late or too early to begin this quest. Go to yourself beginning today.