Netivot Shalom – Parashat Lech Lecha
It is not often that a Hasidic rebbe publishes a book that attracts not only his own followers but in addition, many thousands of readers outside the Hasidic world. Netivot Shalom (Paths of Peace) by Rabbi Sholom Noach Berezovsky (August 8, 1911 – August 8, 2000) is one of them. He served as Slonimer Rebbe from 1981 until his death. The translation from Hebrew of the selection of his writing found below is unknown.
G-d said to Abram “Go, you, from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you…”
We need to understand the matter here which is presented to us in “Yesod Ha’Avodah (Part 4; a, b) in the name of Rabbi Isaac Luria: “No individual is similar to another from the time he/she is created onward, and no single person can repair (in the world) what is meant for another to repair. That is, each person has a unique mission and role that he/she alone can repair in his life, and by virtue of this principle, a unique issue descends to this world for him/her to repair, as is known. And, the Holy One puts before each person all of the circumstances and conditions that will allow him/her to repair what is his/her role to repair, and thereby to fulfill his/her mission and role in the world.
Every condition of a person’s life, material or spiritual, the good or the bad, all of them are given to him/her in order to repair the world. And, it is only because of these conditions that one is able to achieve his/her mission. Without them, he or she cannot repair (in this world) what he/she was meant to repair.
And since there is a unique role and mission (for each person), the conditions of everyone’s life are different. For one, life is easy, and for another, life is harder. And that is why it is observed that each individual has a unique course to his or her life, and one life path cannot be compared to the life path of another…
And this is the explanation of “Go, you, from your land, your birthplace and your father’s household.” Lech Lecha, that is, (Go you) to your mission, to your soul’s repair of what you need to fix in this world. This is the essence of Jew’s task.
As we have learned in the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) - that even if a Jew learns and prays and engages in good deeds, but doesn’t (use his/her) role to repair what needs to be repaired in this world, when s/he ascends on high s/he will be asked: “What did you do in this world?” The implication (of this question) is that you didn’t repair the essential thing that was your role to repair. For that was your mission (or destiny) in the world.
And this was what G-d said to Abraham, which was at the same time an instruction to all of Israel –Abraham’s progeny: Lech lecha! By which is meant, “Go to your special (spiritual place of) repair and finish what was set for you. It is your responsibility to go out from your land, “your birthplace, and your father’s household”, that is, from all of your (particular) conditions and (special) characteristics, and from all of your (unique) nature (meaning – your comfort zone).
There are (personal) characteristics whose roots are in (the notion of) “your land.” (For example), each land (country) has negative characteristics that are inherent (in it) such as murder, theft, etc. The roots (of these characteristics) touch everyone who lives in the land.
And there are those (personal characteristics) that belong to a person’s birthplace. These are negative traits that are found in each family or qualities that come (to you) by means of inheritance.
And, there are those (traits) that flow from your parents’ home. Indeed, your parents’ holy (appropriate) behaviors are passed down to their children.
And based on this it says, Lech Lecha (Go, you!) – (meaning) “Go do your repair and realize your ultimate purpose.” It is incumbent upon you to leave behind all of the negative traits, (those) of your land, your birthplace and your father’s home. For all of these are (unavoidably) inherent in all people. They are at the root of everyone’s soul and (unique) role. And, go to “a land that I will show you”, that is to complete repair of your soul which is your (unique) mission in this world.