Rabbi Mirvis' Archive

After instructing Abraham and Sarah to embark on their momentous pilgrimage (Lech Lecha) from Haran, Hashem promised seven significant blessings: I will make you into a great nation;   I will bless you; I will make your name great; you shall be a blessing; I will bless those who bless you; I will curse those who curse you; through you all the families on earth shall be blessed (Bereishit 12: 2-3).

Similarly, a bride and groom look forward to their married life as “the Promised Land” of their dreams. Upon marriage, they embark on their own special Lech Lecha through leaving their parents’ home (and sometimes even their country and the place of their birth as well). The seven blessings promised to Abraham and Sarah certainly resonate with every Jewish couple: that many will descend from them; that Hashem will bless them; that they will have a good name and reputation and will be a blessing for their surroundings; that others will assist, encourage and bless them and not the converse and that all will be inspired and enriched through encountering them.

Fascinatingly, we learn that there were actually two Lech Lechas.  The second is in Parshat Vayera, where Hashem instructs Abraham to take Isaac to the Akeda:  “And go (Lech Lecha) to the land of Moriah” (Bereishit 22:2).  Abraham and Sarah therefore made a double aliyah:  they first physically entered into the Land of Israel and, once they were there, there was a mitzvah for a second, spiritual pilgrimage to Moriah, explained by our Sages to mean the source of hora’ah (teaching), as it states, “For out of Zion shall the Torah go forth and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

Physical relocation to Israel is therefore only the first stage of total aliyah.  In the second stage, we are required within Israel to devote ourselves to an appreciation of Torah and the attainment of spiritual goals.  Similarly, marriage provides an opportunity for two Lech Lechas.  The first is a physical union as described in Bereishit:  “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh” (2:24).  Within that relationship, the couple has an opportunity to embark on a further exciting and fulfilling Lech Lecha, through establishing and maintaining a traditional Jewish home which is filled with spirituality, Torah knowledge, compassion and kind deeds.