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    What difference can Israel make? – Lech L’cha

    map_israelThe sidra begins with the magnificent call, Lech l’cha, “Leave everything behind and go to the place I will show you” (Gen. 12:1).

    On one reading, Ar’eka – “I will show you” refers to the land of Israel. The patriarch had to heed the call and set out in the direction which God would reveal to him.

    Pinhas Peli quotes another view about ar’eka, that it refers not to the land but to Abraham.

    When the patriarch got to the land, God would show him to the world. The Hebrew means, “Go to the land where I will show you (to humanity)”.

    JH Hertz implied something similar when he wrote that a land focusses a people: what sort of nation they are becomes clear only in the milieu God has chosen for them.

    As far as Abraham was concerned, only in Israel – to used Peli’s words – would Abraham “discover its intrinsic meaning as a place where one becomes a ‘neighbour to the Divine Presence’ (shachen laSh’chinah) and… there qualified for prophecy, which could not transpire outside the land”.

    In modern Israel we have to build a distinctive society in which we show (to God, to the world, to ourselves) what sort of nation we are capable of being.

    If it is the “holy land”, what sort of holiness can a people of diverse opinions create there?

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