There are two important meanings we can attach to the phrase “Lech Lecha” (לך לך), which appears at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion.
- The Holy Land is the Ideal Home for the Jewish People
Not too long ago, the Israeli Knesset decided to recognize the tremendous contributions of immigrants to Israel:
The Knesset passed in a final reading a law instituting the holiday on the seventh of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, coinciding with the reading of the Torah portion in which Abraham is told to leave his home to go to what is now Israel.
#AliyaDay starts tonight(!) and then on Shabbat morning Jews around the world will read “Lech Lecha,” my favorite Torah portion of the entire year! More than 16 years ago, at the age of 24, I packed up two suitcases and made Aliya (immigrated to Israel). To this day, my wife laughs about the fact that I brought my deflated (so it would fit in one of the suitcases) basketball, but I forgot to bring bed sheets and other daily necessities.
It didn’t matter. Israel is amazing and I have experienced so many wonderful adventures here. I came as a single young man and I’m now married to a great Israeli woman and together we have three incredible children. I’m making a nice living, thank G-d. It has been one continuous blessing and literally one of the best decisions I have EVER made.
Check out one of my previous blog posts, 8 Reasons Israelis Are So Happy, to see some of the reasons why I think life is so great here. If you are considering Aliya, I can’t recommend it highly enough. And if you aren’t considering Aliya, then why not? 🙂
2. Discovering Who You Really Are is Key to Jewish Happiness
“Lech Lecha” means “Go to yourself.” It’s like G-d was telling Abraham, on the deepest spiritual level, “This version of you, right now, isn’t who you REALLY are. You’re not yet spiritually at the level you could be at and you aren’t fulfilling your life’s mission.”
In one of my earlier blog posts, I wrote about how many Rabbis have stated that happiness (“simcha”) should be a byproduct for Jews, as opposed to an end goal. While I agree that obsessing about happiness can lead to navel-gazing and narcissistic dissatisfaction, it is also true that multiple personality types exist among Jews. The various mitzvot resonate distinctly, depending on individual talents and experiences, so happiness will look a little bit different for each Jew.
So the key to simcha is to look deeply inward…to examine your life and see how you can more authentically “Go to yourself.”
Lech Lecha! And Happy #AliyaDay!