Divrei Torah

PARSHAS LECH-L'CHA 5778

In this week’s parsha, we learn about a prophecy that Avraham had - the Covenant Between the Pieces. G-d promised Avraham that he would have children and that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan.

In the Torah this prophecy is referred to as a Chazon – a vision – “the word of G-d was to Avraham in a vision. In Hebrew, the choice of word and how it used is very important. Every word in Hebrew tells us a specific definition.

So, what is a vision? Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch defines a “Chazon” - vision – as seeing in the distance – seeing that which is not visible to the ordinary physical eye. The word for “chest” in Hebrew is Chazeh – the same root as Chazon. The chest is the seat of the heart with which one sees the invisible. “Chazon” is to penetrate with one’s spiritual eye into that which is hidden to other people.

However, it is actual seeing. Avraham saw in the distance the exile of the Jewish people to Egypt, their slavery, redemption and return to the Land of Canaan.

It is interesting to note that in the 3rd blessing from the end of the Shmone Esrai we say “and may our eyes see – using a form of the word “Chazeh”– in Your return to Zion with mercy.” There are several words in the Hebrew language that mean “see”. However, when it comes to the return of the Jewish people to our ancient homeland, the Rabbis use the word “Chazeh”. Perhaps the reason is because the Rabbis wanted the Jewish people to view the resurgence and re-establishment of a major Jewish community in the Land of Israel as a special act – there is a deep meaning behind it. It is an act of G-d with its roots in the founding of our nation with the Covenant Between the Pieces and not just a natural result of historical forces.

For example, there are two distinct ways of looking at the right of the Jewish people to the State of Israel. The first view, which is a somewhat popular one, is that the State of Israel is compensation for the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust. And the second view is that the Holocaust is evidence of why there needs to be a Jewish state, but that the right of the Jewish people to the State of Israel begins with Avraham and the Covenant Between the Pieces. The world views the State of Israel in the light of the persecution, suffering and destruction of European Jewry. But the truth is that our right to the Land of Israel dates back millennia.  

So we recite, “our eyes will see” – we will see and understand that the reason the nations assign to the State of Israel is absolutely incorrect. G-d promised to Avraham that his descendants will inherit the Land – a Chazon – seeing what others don’t see.

We read six times in this week’s Parsha that G-d promised us the Land of Israel. It is our inheritance, even if G-d did drive us from the Land.  So, if we just open our eyes, we will see and understand the special and unique qualities of the Land of Israel that are eternal and everlasting.