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The Zigzag Course Upwards

The Zigzag Course Upwards

Friday, 27 October, 2017 - 2:29 am

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The name designated by Torah to any given object, person or idea is not merely a form of reference but an expression of its true essence. It follows that the name of the weekly parsha articulates the all-encompassing and common theme of every story and lesson contained therein.

This week we learn about the first time G-d communicated a direct command to Avraham. Although he had a glorious past of courageously sacrificing his life for G-d, it was all a preparation to receiving the divine instruction of “Lech Lecha – Go forth into the world and spread the knowledge of G-d to all of civilization!” By traveling upon G-d’s instruction, Avraham reached the Holy Land and, at the crossroads of civilization, was able to accomplish his divine mission.

The words Lech Lecha, designated as the name of the entire parsha, represent constant spiritual elevation and accomplishment.

Most of the stories recorded in the parsha fit the theme of Lech Lecha. Upon reaching the Holy Land he received special messages and blessings from G-d. He set up a hospitality center with the sole purpose of spreading the awareness of G-d and was wildly successful. He miraculously vanquished four trained enemy armies thereby rescuing entire cities from ruthless oppression and entered a covenant with G-d twice, faithfully observing the mitzvah of circumcision at the old age of ninety-nine.

The first major incident of the parsha is glaringly different. During his first year in Canaan, there was a famine in the land, which many pagans were able to interpret as the vengeance of their deities on the newly arrived monotheist. To make matters worse, Avraham had no alternative but to travel to Egypt, the most morally depraved region at the time, exemplified by the fact that his wife Sarah was seized by the Pharoah and was rescued only by divine intervention.

How are these details part of the spiritual elevation of Lech Lecha?

When shooting a rubber band, you quickly learn that the further back you stretch it the further it will travel forward when released. Regression for the sake of progress.

Avraham and Sarah’s descent to Egypt and the problems that followed culminated in their ultimate triumph. Pharaoh begged them for mercy, lavished them with many gifts and riches and sent them on their way with much honor and respect equipped with the tools they needed to fulfill their divine mission going forward.

This became the prototype of all descents and regressions Jews experienced throughout history. Each time we get pulled back, we spring forward with even greater velocity.

On a personal level, although we pray every day not to experience adversity and challenges are no cause for celebration, we must be aware that all regression is temporary and certainly no reason to become despondent. There is always a way to transform every pitfall into a steppingstone to greater heights.

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