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The Land I Will Show You

Change is not easy for any of us. It takes tremendous effort - to overcome a bad habit, break out of a rut in thinking or behavior, or get over negative childhood conditioning. That's why the very first act that G-d commanded our forefather, Abraham, was "Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father's home." Chassidic teachings explain that "your land" refers to the body's desires, "your birthplace" to our inborn instincts and inclinations, and "your father's home" to the habits and attitudes instilled in us since childhood. The first step in serving G-d is to leave all those behind in order to strive for a higher purpose.

Each year when we reread a portion in Torah, we actually re-experience the events of that time, and derive spiritual power for our divine service. Thus, when we read the portion of Lech L'cha, "Go forth," we draw divine energy that enables us to release ourselves from previous limitations and overcome our challenges. Regardless of how far we may have progressed, the requirement to "go forth" is constant, since Torah is infinite, and there is always a higher level to reach.

G-d commanded Abraham to go forth until he would reach his destination – “the land that I will show you." This land is the land of the ten Canaanite nations, which G-d promised to Abraham and his descendents. However, Abraham did not actually take possession of the land at that time. Seven of the lands were later conquered by Joshua, and the three remaining lands, Keini, Knizi and Kadmoni, have not yet been conquered; we will take possession of them in the Messianic era.

Thus, the obligation to "go forth" continues until today. We yearn to take possession of the entire land of Israel, including the last three lands, and finally arrive at "the land that I will show you." The novelty of our time, the first generation of redemption, is that we will take possession of these lands in a peaceful way, without resorting to war or violence.

According to Jewish mysticism, the "seven lands" allude to our seven emotional traits. The three lands, which have yet to be conquered, refer to our three intellectual attributes. The primary service during the time of exile is to work on our character and emotions. In the Messianic era, we will reach perfection in this area and our efforts will be devoted to studying Torah and refining our intellect.

"Going forth" and making the necessary changes in our character, thinking and way of life takes strength and courage. With G-d's help, through making our small changes we will merit to "go forth" together to greet the Rebbe, King Moshiach and study the new dimension of Torah that he will reveal.

(Based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Lech L'cha 5752- 1991)


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