D’var Torah: Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27)

By Aviya Cammy

This week’s parasha, parashat Lech Lecha, is the beginning of Avraham’s journey as the father of “a multitude of nations”– starting early on before his name was even Avraham! Despite the many famous and important scenes throughout the parasha, the first pasuk (verse or sentence) is what caught my attention the most. It reads:

Vayomer Hashem el-Avram: Lech l’cha me artzecha umemoladetcha u’me beit avicha el ha’aretz asher arecha

The LORD said to Abram, “Go forth, to you, from your native land–from your father’s house– to the land that I will show you”

In order to begin his journey, Avram (later to become Avraham) had to leave his native land and father’s home, leaving what was familiar and comfortable for him. This gift of independence given to Avram by God, required him to step out of his comfort zone.

As inspirational as this is, we all know it’s not so easy to step out of our comfort zones– no matter how great the reward is– on the basis of faith alone. The good news is that Avram knew this too, and he brought a support system with him: his family and belongings.

This begs a question ever present in the mind of teenagers and their families alike: what does one need in order to leave home?

For many, leaving home is a rewarding and successful new beginning, but for others it is not. Why do some succeed and others don’t? I gleaned a formula from this week’s parasha, using what Avram had in his life: potential that was known to others + a destination + patience, trust and free will + a support system = successful journey!

God’s knowledge of Avram’s potential is evident in the phrase Lech l’cha itself. L’cha means to you or towards yourself. The commandment to “go towards yourself” comes from a place of searching, discovering and actualizing one’s own potential– sometimes with the push of a friend. Although it is God authorizing Avram’s journey, He plans a destination which Avram is willing to pursue.

Without goals, how can anyone be sure they’re doing the right thing? It is revealed that Avram has patience, trust and free throughout the parasha, including when he becomes Avraham on the basis of his covenant with God and when he makes the decision to hide Sarai as his sister, not as his wife. A mixture of all these things gave Avram the tools he needed in order to live successfully with his new identity.

Though both Avram and Avraham embody doubts and contradictions and make mistakes along the way, it is clear that Avram, upon becoming Avraham, is aware of a larger purpose and is intent on pursuing it.

I hope that as we get ready to become independent or  begin new a chapter, we all remember what Avraham endured on his journey.