"G‑d said to Abram, "Go: from your land, from your birthplace, from your father's house — to the land that I will show you." (12:1)

"Go": Literally, this command reads, "Go to you." This instruction to Abram is also an instruction for every individual: "Go to you" —- return and connect to the real you, to your essence and spiritual root.1

...our challenge is to connect the earthly dimension of our soul...with its transcendent root.

Only a small part of the soul enters the body and enlivens it. The greater part of the soul, its root, remains above, transcending the limitations of the physical world and experiencing Divinity as clearly and naturally as we experience materiality. During our stay in this world, our challenge is to connect the earthly dimension of our soul (whose physical perception has blinded it to Divinity) with its transcendent root. "The more we connect with our root, the more we, too, will be able to see Divinity." 2 Thus, the Torah tells us:

"Go to yourself": return to your inner core, by going—

"From your land": that is, by transcending your earthly desires,

"From your birthplace": by overcoming your natural habits and inclinations, and

"From your father's house": by transcending the intellectual limitations of your animating soul (since the intellect "fathers" ideas and, eventually, emotions as well).

"Leaving our birthplace" (overcoming our natural habits and inclinations) means first and foremost overcoming negative inclinations, such as anger and jealousy. 3 But beyond this, we must also "overcome" our good inclinations, such as the desire to give charity; we must do good deeds because this is God's command and not only because our natural inclination to do good drives us to. Only then can we be sure that we are transcending our earthly selves and connecting with the higher dimension of our soul. 4

There is a healthy, holy type of lowliness, which encourages us to fulfill God's will...

"From your land...to the land": Land, which is constantly trampled underfoot, symbolizes lowliness. There is a healthy, holy type of lowliness, which encourages us to fulfill God's will, and there is an unhealthy, negative type of lowliness, which prevents us from fulfilling our Divine mission. Healthy lowliness is the humility we feel when we realize that we are standing in God's presence at all times. Unhealthy lowliness is the slavish submission to our animalistic cravings for the lowly, physical aspects of life, such as food. We, as human beings, the apex of creation, should rightfully rule over the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms; when we allow them to wield power over us, we succumb to the ultimate in self-degradation. This unhealthy lowliness is actually a product of unhealthy haughtiness: our inflated sense of self-worth convinces us that we deserve whatever form of indulgence we can enjoy without consequences.

The Torah therefore instructs us: "Go from your land," i.e. from unhealthy lowliness, "to the land that I will show you," to the healthy lowliness that stems from Divine awareness. 5

"Go…that I will show you": Just as, in order to spread the message of God to all humanity, it became necessary to isolate a unique nation from all others and dedicate it as God's messengers, it also became necessary to isolate a unique homeland for that nation from all other countries and designate it as the stage from which God's nation would deliver His message to the world.

Inasmuch as the purpose of creation was to reveal Divinity in a realm innately not conducive to such a revelation, the Land of Israel had to parallel this dynamic. Therefore, even though God designated it as the Jewish homeland as soon as it was created, He first gave it to pagan nations, intending that the Jewish people later conquer it from them.

When the Jewish people conquered the Land of Israel, they changed its spiritual nature and it thereby became forever the "Jewish" land. Even during their exiles, the Land of Israel remains the Jewish people's land. 6

* * *

God's command to Abraham in this verse can additionally be seen as a command to us to leave the comfort of our own insulated lives and venture out to the world-at-large in order to transform it into a Godly place. Naturally we would rather remain apart from the world, instead sequestering ourselves in our cocoon of prayer and Torah study. God therefore tells us that if we enter the real world, our full inner potential will be realized and our true, best selves will be manifest; this never could have happened had we stayed focused solely on our own self-improvement.

With this explanation in mind, God's words can now be read, "Go…that I may show [the world the real] you." 7

Metaphorically, this command is given to every soul about to be born, which must then descend from its source in the heavenly spheres through progressively lower gradations, gaining more definition, self-awareness, and distance from God at each step, until it reaches the physical plane. Its next step is to begin the process of ascent, traveling back in the opposite direction to transcend the shortsighted perspective of the body. Finally, it must then transcend even its own holy inclinations. This verse can thus be explained as follows:

"Go": Descend from the highest levels —

"From your land": The word for "land" (eretz) is related to the word for "will" or "desire" (ratzon). "Land" therefore alludes to God's will, which is identified with the sefira of keter. The soul is thus told to take leave of its lofty roots (keter) and descend to the next level, chochma.

"From your birthplace": Divine insight (chochma) is called "father," since chochma "fathers" and gives birth to ideas. The soul must leave this level as well and descend even further, into the realm of understanding (bina).

"From your father's house": Bina is the womb where the seed of chochma is developed and expanded, which is why it is called "your father's house." The soul must descend even further —

"to the land": i.e. to the physical world: This is the ultimate, most difficult descent, yet through it the soul arrives in this world, which is the "land"—

"that I will show you": The non-descriptive "I" refers to God's essence, which is likewise beyond description. God promises the soul that in the merit of descending into this world and fulfilling the commandments, it will be shown the "I" of God, enabling it to cleave to God's essence.

Once the soul enters this world and becomes garbed in a human body, it is commanded and given the strength to —

"Go": this time in the opposite direction, from the lowest sphere to the highest —

...the soul must transcend the animalistic desires of the body.

"From your land": "Land," as we have explained above, alludes to will and desire. Firstly, the soul must transcend the animalistic desires of the body. It is then told to go —

"From your birthplace": i.e. to transcend the assumptions and limited perspective of the intellect and emotions of the ego. It must then go —

"From your father's house": i.e. to transcend those behavioral habits that it acquired and became accustomed to due to a faulty education and less-than-perfect environment. It must go beyond all of these limitations—

"to the land that I will show you": to a holy place, such as a synagogue or place of Torah study, where the desires of the Divine soul dominate and prevail.

Only after we have successfully transcended the limitations of the body's animating soul can we then proceed to the next task, that of transcending even the inclinations of the Divine soul, its own ratzon (land), chochma (birthplace), and bina (father's house), and reach a level that is beyond reason, "the land that I will show you," a place where the soul does not merely comprehend Divinity but actually sees it. 8

From another perspective:

"From your land": from the coarseness of the netzach, hod, and yesod of the animating soul;

"From your birthplace": from the habits of the animating soul, its chesed, gevura, and tiferet;

"From your father's house": from the chochma, bina and da'at of the animating soul.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, vol. 2, p. 659
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org