Homeland

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Lech Lecha Home v2

“Home is where the heart is.”

Last week we read that Abram was born and raised in Ur. Then his father Terach moved to Harran and Abram lived there with Sarai, his wife, and his nephew Lot.

This week’s reading begins with the famous “Lech L’cha” commandment. God tells Abram to go to Canaan. Specifically, God says “go from your country, your birth place, from your father’s home, to the land I will show you.” The problem is that the land of Harran where Abram is ostensibly living, is not his country, birth place, or his father’s home. Can we make sense of God’s command?

When you’re a guest somewhere, you don’t build things. You don’t try to change global settings when you borrow your friend’s phone for 5 minutes. When you leave home and venture out into the world, you don’t put down roots immediately because you don’t know how long you are going to stay.

But some people always feel like they are home. They don’t wait to get settled. They become connected to their neighborhoods and are active in their communities immediately. Their new place becomes their homeland very quickly.

Jewish history has almost chiseled this into our collective psyche. We’ve yearned for our homeland for 2000 years, but we treat wherever we find ourselves in the meantime as a surrogate homeland. We don’t act like guests. Our presence is significant and impactful.

I think we got that from Abram. He was from Ur but he lived in Harran. It’s likely that he had no thoughts of returning to his homeland. But in the meantime Harran became his homeland. It became his father’s home. It even became his birthplace. It was as if he had always been there and he had definitely been reborn and reinvigorated while he was in Harran.

Throughout the Torah portion, Abram’s life is very portable, but we while he is settled in any particular place, he seems to act as if that place is his homeland.

We sometimes get stuck because we are waiting to go back or move to our Promised Land. But we should make our home into our homeland and build the way one builds their long time family home.

That explains how Harran could have been described as Abram’s homeland.

Maybe that is what they mean when they say “Home is where the heart is.”

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink is the founder of shulontheinternet.com.
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