What G-d said or didn’t say to Abraham

The title of this post comes from the opening verse of Lech-Lecha, where G-d tells Abraham to make this journey… to the land I will show you. There are many commentaries on this verse. One of the big questions is why wasn’t G-d open and forthright about the place, why this indirect and vague language? There are all kinds of answers to this question, but an exchange this week between my two youngest daughters helped me think of a different angle.

Showing me the Farm

Esther Miriam (first grade) went on a class trip to Ellms Farm on Wednesday. She came home with a pumpkin, had fun on kid-friendly zip-lines and more. At breakfast on Thursday morning, Rivka (our youngest, now in Nursery school) asked Esther Miriam, “Can you show me the farm?” Esther Miriam said she could not as the farm was far away. But little Rivka was persistent, so I told Esther Miriam to just describe it to her. Now, Esther Miriam can describe things quite vividly, so she told about the pumpkin patch and the various size pumpkins and how they were still attached to the vine… The clock was ticking and it was soon time to go to school, so I told Rivka to finish her cereal so we could get into the car. “But Esther Miriam is showing me the farm!” she said.

English majors would especially appreciate this story. Sometimes words can show us a lot more than a picture can.

Back to that opening Lech-Lecha verse…

Perhaps “the land that I will show you” is saying much more than any address or location would have. G-d didn’t just give him GPS coordinates or an address to punch into Google Maps or Waze. Maybe what G-d was saying is that I will show you this place, I will tell you all about it, I will make you feel like you are right there now…

The Rebbe’s Direction

This makes me think of how the Rebbe showed the way for the thousands of Chabad Shluchim and Shluchos that devote their lives to operating Chabad Houses across the country and across the world. Very few Shluchim received direct directives from the Rebbe to go to a certain place, or what specifically to do there. Instead the Rebbe showed us a vision, taught us perspective, explained the goals, highlighted the needs… and then you go and fill in whatever details.