GOING HOME – Lekh l’kha – Gen. 12-17, by Rabbi Baruch Cohon
Some Torah readings have distinguishing titles, and this week’s reading stands out. In the opening sentence, Abram gets the Divine message that starts with the two words that became the title: lekh l’kha, literally “go to you.” What does that mean? Where is Abram told to go?
Of course, the following sentences go into detail, listing the places that he is leaving: his country, his birthplace, his father’s house. And the destination of his trip is “a land that I will show you.” But for that destination, just one word lekh would be required, wouldn’t it? Simply, go. Why the second word?
Commentators differ on this question. Rashi explains that the second word, l’kha – “to you” – indicates that this journey will be to Abram’s benefit.
The Klee Yokor explores various interpretations of this word, and compares its usage in Biblical Hebrew to the narrative that says the Flood halakh lo – took itself away. So here, maybe Abram is being told to “take yourself away” to a land which, unknown to you now, contains the place where human life was created. Mount Moriah in what is now Jerusalem, we are told, was where Adam and Eve came from. The same hill that would one day welcome Solomon’s Temple.
And the Baal haTurim commentary points out the numerical value of the letters lamed and khaf that spell out each of these words, namely 30 and 20, making a total of 50, times 2 = 100. So, suggests Baal haTurim, the Almighty is promising Abram another 100 years of life. Since Abram at this point in the story is 75 years old, and the Torah lists his life as lasting 175 years, that would be an interesting interpretation of lekh l’kha.
But perhaps this mysterious title has still another message to give us. Going to yourself is more than a change of location. Going to yourself can mean gathering the strength to recover from addiction. Regaining clarity of thought and positive purpose. Going to yourself can mean accepting your neighbors without judging them, and honoring those who deserve it. Going to yourself can mean opening your mind to your heritage, exploring your ancestral traditions and bringing them into your life, adding the joy of Mitzva to yourself and your family. It can mean not leaving your birthplace or your people’s house, but treasuring those parts of your life and renewing those connections.
Mount Moriah may be the historic home of humanity and a hallowed location for our people. It is a worthwhile physical destination. But the personal destination we can all seek is lekh l’kha – going to your true self. In other words, going home.
Going home. May we all have a successful journey there.