In Parshas Lech Lecha begins the journey of Avraham Avinu as he travels to Eretz Yisrael and so forges the destiny of his future children, the Bnei Yisrael. We read about his first encounter with God, when he is given the promises of children and Eretz Yisrael, and makes the famous Covenant of the Parts with God in which God promises that Avraham’s descendants will become His chosen nation. In this sense, the basic foundation for Bnei Yisrael is set up for all time in this parshah. You might call it the beginning of the rest of the Torah! It is the promise of Eretz Yisrael that I would like to focus on this week.
It says in Perek 13 Pasuk 14-15, “שָׂא נָא עֵינֶיךָ וּרְאֵה מִןהַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁראַתָּה שָׁם צָפֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה וָקֵדְמָה וָיָמָּה…” “…Raise now your eyes and look out from where you are: northward, southward, eastward and westward” “כִּי אֶת כָּל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה רֹאֶה לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה וּלְזַרְעֲךָ עַד עוֹלָם” “For all the land that you see, to you will I give it, and to your descendants forever.” (Bereishis 13:14-15) Skipping to Pasuk 17, it says, “קוּם הִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּאָרֶץ לְאָרְכָּהּ וּלְרָחְבָּהּ כִּי לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה” “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth! For to you will I give it.” (13:17) In these pesukim, Hashem is telling Avraham to travel throughout the entire country of Israel, so he could see what he and his children were getting. It almost sounds as if Hashem is showing off his gift like a proud parent, which is exactly what he is doing.
The Kli Yakar points out two discrepancies between these two separate “commandments” to explore Eretz Yisrael. First off, the first pasuk tells Avraham to simply look at the land, implying that all that is necessary for him to finalize his acquisition of it is to observe it from where he stands. However, Pasuk 17 tells him that he must go and explore every inch of the land on foot! This implies that he must walk through every corner of the land in order for it to become his! Secondly, in Pasuk 15, Hashem tells Avraham that he is giving the land to him, “וּלְזַרְעֲךָ עַד עוֹלָם” “and to your descendants forever.” In Pasuk 17, however, the pasuk only says that the land will be given to Avraham with no mention of his children at all!
The Kli Yakar answers that there were two sections of Eretz Yisrael that Avraham had to acquire, the physical part and the spiritual part. At this point in time, Avraham was camped in a city called Beit-El, which is now the spot of Har Habayit, the Temple Mount. And while there was no temple built at the time of Avraham, or nowadays for that matter, that spot is directly lined up with the Temple, which is constantly erect, in heaven. Because of this, there exists a latent presence of God on the mountain regardless of whether we see any physical manifestation of it. This presence is so strong, says the Kli Yakar, that one who merely glances at this spot is immediately imbued with a spirit of holiness and purity. Hashem constantly keeps watch over that spot and anyone who comes there is immediately seen by Him. Therefore, anyone who comes will “see” God as well, and will receive this spirit, all it takes is looking at this spot. However, this only takes affect at the Temple Mount itself, nowhere else in the world, even in Eretz Yisrael itself, does this happen. So Hashem was telling Avraham to look around the spot where he was living in order that he would reach a level of holiness and purity which could not and still cannot be reached anywhere else in the world.
Furthermore, this spirit of holiness will never leave him and will even be passed to his descendants, even if they do not see the Temple Mount! This is why the first pasuk makes specific mention that God will give the land to Avraham’s children after him, it is referring to this spiritual effect.
The physical acquisition of Eretz Yisrael works differently, it must be done by showing physical ownership. Therefore, Avraham was required to walk through the entire country and only then could he officially claim the land as his own. Furthermore, we are told that if we sin, we will lose Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, Hashem could not promise to Avraham that his physical claim on Eretz Yisrael would go to his children as well.
For question, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email us at AIMeMTorah@gmail.com