In parshah Lech Lecha, we learn of Hashem’s command to Avraham our Father to leave the land of his birth and the home of his father and to travel “to a land that I will show you.” Although we know that this land is the Land of Israel, at the time of this command Avraham was unaware of where he was to go. Yet, because of his great faith and trust in Hashem, he left towards this unknown destination.
As part of His covenant with Avraham, Hashem promises him that this special and holy land will belong to his descendants — to us, the Jewish people. It is interesting to note that Avraham travels the length and breadth of the Land of Israel. The rabbis teach us that, “the deeds of the ancestors are a sign for the children.” Avraham’s traveling the land established the proverbial road map for us, his children. It taught us that the entire Land of Israel is a gift from Hashem to the Jewish nation. It therefore entirely holy, and entirely ours.
The Maharal of Prague teaches that every nation needs to have its own land. When a nation is removed from their land, they are in an unnatural state of exile. Therefore, it is no surprise that throughout the centuries of our exile we longed to return home to the Land of Israel. Even in a barren and desolate state, the land was as an incredible magnet that had a spiritual pull on every Jew. So as the Land began to flourish, and the State of Israel began to thrive, it was only natural that more and more Jews would return home.
As part of His covenant with Avraham, Hashem promises him that his children — the Jewish people — will be as numerous as the stars of the sky. Later, He promises Avraham that his children will be as numerous as the sands of the shore. HaRav Avraham Yitzchak Kook teaches that both metaphors are significant.
Every single star is unique. On the other hand, an individual speck of sand is only significant when it combines with the rest of the sand to fulfill their collective mission.
Similarly, every Jew is unique and special. Yet, we also have a collective responsibility as a nation. We are to represent Hashem as a Holy Nation in our Holy Land. It is then that we can be a “light unto the nations” and advance the world’s spirituality.
HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook taught that children should begin their in-depth study of the Torah with Lech Lecha, as it is this parshah that is the foundation for Jewish nationhood. We begin learning of our ancestors, our national destiny and our eternal connection — and right — to the entire land that Hashem has given us. If our children internalize these lessons, they can carry them into their adulthood and connect their individual destinies with that of the entire Jewish people.
We live in an era when we are blessed with a vibrant and strong State of Israel. Sadly, it is also an era where we simultaneously face constant challenges to our right to the entire Land of Israel and an assimilation rate that is truly staggering. But if we look to Lecha Lecha, and teach its message to our children and to ourselves, we can become an even holier and stronger nation as we fulfill our individual and national destinies. May we be both as the stars and the sand as a united and holy nation in our Holy Land.
Rabbi Shmuel Jablon is the menahel (principal) of Torah Academy, a past executive committee member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the host of www.rabbijablon.com.