Rabbi Zeev Leff
The Midrash relates that this week’s parashah contains the second command of “lekh lekha” given to Avraham Avinu. The first “lekh lekha” in last week’s parashah commanded him to go to Eretz Yisrael and the second one in this week’s parashah commands him to go to sacrifice his son Yitzchak. The Midrash raises the question which “lekh lekha” is greater. It answers that since the verse says, “El eretz hamoriyah” – to the land of Moriah, the second “lekh lekha” is greater.
This Midrash may, perhaps, be understood as follows. Avraham Avinu was commanded to leave his land, his birthplace and his father’s home. He was to go to Eretz Yisrael where the negative influence of chutz la’aretz would no longer exist, where his birthplace and his father’s home would no longer play a part in his life. He was commanded to run away from the negative, “lekh lekha me’artzekha,” “go away from your land.” His greater mission, however, was to do good, to advance forward towards nobler, positive goals. Hence, “lekh lekha el,” “go to” is the greater command.
Many people heed the call of “lekh lekha,” and exert great effort that involves considerable expense and personal sacrifice to make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. They will certainly be rewarded profusely for this great mitzvah. One must realize, however, that aliyah does not end at Ben Gurion Airport; that is where it only begins. Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael is an ongoing “lekh lekha el,” going up to higher and higher levels of Torah learning and mitzvah observance, holiness and spirituality, and higher and higher levels of character development. This “lekh lekha el” is not only for ourselves, but also to bring our children with us to reach even higher levels than we are capable of reaching. The pure and holy environment of Eretz Hakodesh and the enlightening atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael make this possible.
May those who have not yet been able to fulfill the call of the first “lekh lekha” merit to do so, and may those fortunate to have already made the first “lekh lekha” merit to continually fulfill the second “lekh lekha” in an unending quest for perfection in Eretz Yisrael.