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    Two Lech L’chas

    Lech LechaThere are actually two Biblical commands that say Lech L’cha, one here (Gen. 12:1) and one next week (Gen. 22:2) when the Akedah is prefaced by God telling Abraham to take his son and lech l’cha (“Go for yourself!”) to the land of Moriah.

    This Hebrew phrase, as Nachmanides points out, is a grammatical idiom, but the commentators read a special significance into it.

    Rashi, utilising a famous Midrashic comment, explains that the l’cha means “for your own benefit and good”.

    Literally the command is, “Go to yourself”: in other words, “Go, and follow your destiny” or “Go, and find out what you really are”.

    In both cases, this week when God tells Abraham to go to a new country, and next week, when He tells him to ascend a mountain and be prepared to offer his son, the patriarch is confronted with a massive challenge.

    In effect, the question God puts to him is, “Will you be able to handle a major life-changer?”

    The second challenge is even greater than the first: “Are you prepared to pay an impossible price for the sake of God?”

    The theologian Ignaz Maybaum points out that the story of the Akedah is diametrically different to the central story of Christianity.

    Judaism does not expect the patriarch to actually make the sacrifice. What it tests is Abraham’s willingness.

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