Nehama Leibowitz: from Studies in Bereshit, pp.113
“לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ”
“get thee out of your country, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house…”
Commentators have remarked on the unusual order. The verse should have read, in the ordinary way: “מבית אביך, ממולדתך ומארצך” (from your father’s house, your birthplace and from your country.”) This is the logical sequence, since a person first leaves home, then his birthplace and then his fatherland
The commentary הכתב והקבלה (Haktav Vehakabala)* suggests that there we are referring to a spiritual rather than physical withdrawal, beginning with the periphery and ending with the inner core. The withdrawal from one’s birthplace is not such a cruel wrench as the cutting of one’s connection with one’s family. First, therefore, Abraham was bidden to sever his connection with his country, then his city and finally the most intimate bond, that of home.
*Haktav Vehakabala: Was written by Rabbi Yaakov Tzevi Mecklenburg, a German Jewish scholar of the 19th century. Rabbi Mecklenburg served as Rabbi of Koenigsburg, East Prussia for 35 years (1831-65). Haketav Vehakabbalah was first published in 1839.
Leading Idea: Circles of attachment. (Bereshit 12:1)
When God tells Avram “Lechlecha” he mentions three kinds of leaving:
- Leave your country
- Leave your birthplace
- Leave your father’s house
Several scholars have noted that it seems strange to list the circles of attachment in this order. The text from Nechama Leibowitz and the commentary Haktav Vehakabala (secondary-sources) both offer an interpretation for this.
Some of the exercises and discussion plans in this unit explore these different ‘layers of leaving’.