Parashas Lech-Lecha

This week’s parashah begins with Hashem telling Avraham (Bereishis 12:1): “Go you forth from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house, to the land that I shall show you.” The Midrash, which Rashi quotes, remarks (Bereishis Rabbah 39:9): “Why did He not reveal [the destination] to him? In order to endear it to him and to give him reward for each and every step.”
The Maggid notes that there are two reasons for traveling at an earnest pace: (1) to run away from someone or something and (2) to reach a desired destination. Thus, later on in the parashah, an angel meets up with Hagar on the road and asks her (Bereishis 16:8): “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” The angel was asking Hagar why she was rushing. She replied: “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” Hagar’s journey had only one goal: to escape. Avraham’s journey, however, had two goals: to move away from his native environment, and to reach a certain destination – the Holy Land of Israel.
The Maggid explains that there is a basic difference between the two goals underlying Avraham’s journey. As regards traveling to the intended destination, the journey constituted just a single mitzvah. Moreover, the mitzvah was fulfilled only when he reached the destination; before then, he had essentially accomplished nothing. As regards moving away from his native environment, however, every step was a separate accomplishment, for every step made the distance one step greater. Thus, from this standpoint, every step counted as a separate mitzvah. Hence, Hashem initially told Avraham simply to set out on the road, without revealing his destination. Hashem wanted Avraham to focus on moving away from his native environment, so as to give him reward for every single step.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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