At the end of Parashat Noach the Torah tells us, “Terach took his son Avram, and Lotthe son of Haran, his grandson, and his daughter-in-law Saria, the wife of Avram, and they departed with them from Ur Kasdim to the land of Canaan.” (Bereishit 11:31) Terach takes his family on a journey to the land of Cannan, to Eretz Yisrael. This journey is cut short though, as the Torah continues to tell us that, “they arrived at Haran and they settled there . . . and Terach died in Haran.” (Bereishit 11:31-32) Apparently, when Terach reached Haranhe decided to settle there and not continue on to Eretz Yisrael, and he spends the rest of his life in Haran.
This background helps us understand the opening verses of this week’s Parasha in which God turns to Avram and commands him to complete the journey to Eretz Yisrael that was begun by his father with the famous words, “Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Bereishit 12:1)
The unavoidable questions are: What caused Terach to become “stuck” in Haran? Why is it only Avram who succeeds in completing the journey to Eretz Yisrael?
Apparently, the path leading to Eretz Yisrael is a difficult one. Notwithstanding the best of intentions, Terach is unable to overcome the obstacles along the way. He “breaks down” and gives up on the ideal of reaching Eretz Yisrael. Avram, on the other hand, committed to the goal, is the one commanded by God to reach Eretz Yisrael, and he eventually completes the mission begun by his father.
Often times, we have goals and aspirations that we wish to see fulfilled in our lifetimes. Sometimes we even begin to realize these goals, yet along the way we find ourselves losing the strength of will needed to continue and we give up. Avram is a model of a person who fulfilled his destiny, no matter the obstacles in his way. Avram completed the mission of reaching Eretz Yisrael, even though he needed to leave his family and the place of his birth to do so.
This is true of all the spiritual and material aspirations we have in our lives. In this regard we should all be students of Avraham Avinu, striving to reach our goals without despair when we find obstacles in our path. This is especially true of our aspirations to reach Eretz Yisrael. The Terach phenomenon, a sincere desire to reach Eretz Yisrael weakened by obstacles and becoming “stuck” along the way, is a common one. The great writer, spokesperson of the Jewish People, Shai Agnon put it best:
Jews have been willing to gives their lives for Zionism, but because of the great focus on the means have forgotten the purpose and have made the mistake in thinking that the aim of Zionism is Zionist assemblies, and that the aim of the Zionist assemblies are the speeches, and the aim of the speeches is Zionist propaganda and eventually that the aim of the propaganda is the propaganda itself. Initially, Eretz Yisrael was the ultimate aim, but when that aim seemed far-off and unreachable, and the means attainable; they traded the distant and difficult with the nearby and achievable.
May we all be merit becoming true descendants of Avraham Avinu, remaining dedicated to and eventually realizing the true and important goals that are the foundation of our faith.