Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Lech Lecha - 5777

Dear friends,

Shalom from Eretz Yisrael.

The portion for this week, Lech Lecha, is the beginning of the story of the Jewish people. From the previous chapters we don't know much about Abram whose name will be changed to Abraham. At this point we don't know why G-d chose him to become a great nation, and why all the nations of the world will be blessed because of him.

This story begins with G-d calling on Abram to leave his land, his birth place, and his parents' home and go to the land which G-d will show him. Abram listens. He leaves his home, his birthplace, his country, and when he reaches Canaan, G-d says to him:

"This is the land which I will give you and to your descendants after you," (Genesis 12:7)

The tour of Israel which I led this past week was most appropriate in understanding Abraham. This land of milk and honey that he was promised is an excellent explanation of Abraham's wandering, and of the challenges and wars he encountered. What is most important is that it took so long for this promise to come to fruition.

We visited the place where David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, declared the establishment of the State of Israel. We followed the War of Independence and the wars that followed. We saw the difficult layout of the land and the difficulties in having two states living as good and peaceful neighbors. How fitting it was that we ended our tour by visiting Latrun, the museum established to remember the fallen of the armored divisions.

We completed our tour the same week that America was observing Veterans Day. Over 4500 members of the armored division are being remembered in a most solemn and dignified way. The photo of each of the fallen is featured on his/her Yahrzeit. These soldiers are not in uniform and no rank is shown at the memorial. It is to show that these people were ordinary people - fathers, brothers, sons and daughters. They had come from different parts of the world to heed the call of "Lech Lecha" - Go forth to help and support your people. Lech Lecha is a call to every individual to go forth, to join others and not to be satisfied with the past but to look for new opportunities.

Our group felt very connected to the land and to its history, and we got a better understanding of what Eretz Yisrael is and all the challenges it faces.

Although there was so much to do on the last day, many were preoccupied with the US elections. "Lech Lecha" - go forth. The call to Abraham continues to call to us from generation to generation - "Lech Lecha" - move on, accept the results of the election because that is what a democracy is all about. "Lech Lecha" - Go forth!

May all your moves be successful.

Shabbat Shalom,