Go for yourself
by Carmel Kaufman
Coming to Israel can easily become about exploring the past, it can become about the museums and the rich history that comes up to grab you as soon as you take a step out of your front door. Israel, just like any other country, is not just defined by its past, but also by its present and future. While there are thousands of books that explore Israel the first and seemingly most famous is the text that binds us, the Jewish nation, together. In fact this is the number one selling text throughout the world, its main location Israel, the staring characters our ancestors.
Just as Abraham was told to leave the house of his father and to לך-לך …אל הארץ אשר אראך, “go … to a land that I will show you” so is every person. At some point we are guided towards a place where we have to go, we have to leave everything behind and begin again. The amazing thing about the words לך-לך is that it means literally “go for yourself”. What does that mean?
Obviously, Avraham was supposed to be travelling somewhere, the rest of the sentence clearly indicates that he is meant to be moving somewhere. So what’s the deal with לך-לך? It means to go for your own benefit. That, just because I’m telling you to go, don’t go because of that reason, go because it is what is right for you. It might be difficult and challenging but ultimately it will make you into who you are supposed to be. God is saying to Avraham go to this place that I will show you. Trust me, this journey will be difficult but ultimately going will change you in the best possible ways.
Going to Israel, the land that will be revealed to you, will help you, guide you, and protect you enabling you to become the best person that you can be.
Just as our ancestors came to the land, so do we. Our journeys are a little different. They had to walk in the desert, we have to wait in lines at Ben-Gurion and deal with the craziness of intercontinental travel. You know, basically the same circumstances… The impact of Israel though is the exact same.
There can be a thousand free trips and programs being promoted but ultimately the person boarding the plane has to come for one reason: לך-לך. They come for themselves. They come to explore and to attempt to understand how we are connected here and how this place can change someone.
You never know what part of the country will reach out and captivate someone. It could be the bustling streets of Mea Sharim on Erev Shabbat, where stores are selling hot potato kugel, so fresh that you can smell the roasting potatoes and oil from meters away, to eager customers jostling in lines that fill the tiny shops. It is the movement of people on the streets, the men in fur hats that are coifed just so and wearing embroidered vestments that have such a rich history, culture and meaning towards them that just understanding of that alone could be a college course in and of itself; the women shouting towards the clerks to make sure that the clerk gets their order right as they balance of attentions of multiple children and their groceries making it seem easy despite the impossibility of that being true.
The land is more than Jerusalem with its ancient melody beaten out by the footsteps of travelers mingling with the chatter of natives and the ever present stream of traffic. The gentle thrum of words strung together to form ancient prayers and shouted greetings that create the epicenter of life here in Israel rippling and radiating out of the city center.
It is more than Tel Aviv where the skyscrapers pierce the horizon and alter the crystal blue skyline. Where huge corporate CEO’s where flipflops and jeans their casual ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit infecting the city and helping it grow in ways unimagined. Where ideas from the last century blossom from texts, like Hertzl’s Altneuland, into the living breathing metropolis that is Tel Aviv. It is a city that literally blossomed from nothing to become a place where innovation, night life and culture flourish. The white beach shoreline is spotted with groups of people getting together to gaze into the horizon and contemplate their next adventure.
When someone comes to Israel it is as if they are encountering a living breathing entity. She is a welcoming mother, a protective force. Israel is different than any other land, not just because her beauty is one of a kind but because we change because of our encounters with her. We become different by coming to Israel. We become more like our true selves.
To this day when we, the nation of Israel, comes to the land we לך-לך. We go for ourselves so that we can become we are meant to be.
Carmel Kaufman currently lives in her favorite city in the world, Jerusalem, originally from the States. She has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about Israel. In her spare time Carmel likes to hike, take pictures, hang out with friends and go to the beach. You can read more of Carmel’s articles at: karencarmelkaufman.blogspot.co.il