Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When we begin studying the parsha of Lech Lecha, some may ask why we need to know all the details that Almighty G-d said to Avraham Avinu concerning his departure from his place of birth.

“What relevance or significance does it have to me? After all, I am not traveling from one country to another. I’m stationary in the same country where my parents brought me up. So why do I need to know all about Avraham Avinu’s travels?”

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The answer is, as the Rebbe explains (Sefer Hasichos 5749), based on the Zohar, that these details are about every one of us. Even if we are not big travelers, our neshamah made an arduous journey from the upper worlds down to this lowly world. And it traveled here for a specific purpose and mission.

G-d Almighty says to a Jew: In order for you to succeed in your shlichus (mission) in this world, “Lech lecha,” you must depart, “me’artzechah,” from your land. In a spiritual sense, this refers to materialism. We must depart from our own materialism.

We must also depart “mimolad’techa,” from our birthplace and natural tendencies. To serve Almighty G-d, we have to go out of our comfort zone, not focusing on doing only what we like and not doing the things we don’t like. We must do whatever we are called upon to do; sometimes it is easier and sometimes it is harder.

We are commanded to journey from “beis avichah,” the house of our parents. “In my parents’ house we did it this way or that way.” Almighty G-d says: When you come down to this world, you do things the way G-d Himself tells you to do.

All this is accompanied by a promise and assurance. As Rashi explains, “lech lecha” means “for your pleasure and for your benefit.” Every Jew should say to himself: My neshamah came down to this world for my benefit. I will benefit from the fact that I came down to this world and worked with this world and transformed the world from “artziyus,” physical matter, to “eretzsherotz’soh la’asos r’tzon konoh,” a land that desires to fulfill Almighty G-d’s will.

You may respond with a question: Can I really change the entire world?

The answer is, as we learn in Pirkei Avos, It’s not up to me to accomplish the entire task. But at the same time, I cannot rid myself of this responsibility. I have to welcome it and then I will do whatever I can.

Almighty G-d is not going to ask me whether I saved the entire world because that is outside the realm of possibility. But He may ask me, “What about your neighbor? Did you talk to him about Shabbos, kashrus, tefillin? And the woman who lives on your block – does she light Shabbos candles? Is she sending her children to the proper school?”

When we do all of the above, we will arrive at “ha’aretz asher arekah,” the land that I (G-d) will show you. G-d says, “When you help another Jew, I will show you your own personality. You will then understand the depth of your soul and the reason for your existence.”

This is especially pertinent to us now in the final generation of galus and the first generation of geulah. We have to prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach. It is important that we reach every person that we can, so they will help us prepare ourselves and the entire world for the geulah. May this take place imminently, Teikef uMiyad Mamosh!

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at Lubavitchyouth@gmail.com.