Parashat Lekh-Lekha / פרשת לך־לך

Crop of Abraham's Journey from Ur to Canaan by Jozsef Molnar


Parashat Lekh-Lekha is the third weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the third reading of Bereishit (“Genesis”). Lekh-Lekha (לֶךְ-לְךָ) is Hebrew for You Go and is the fifth and sixth words of the parashah.

HaShem tells Avram (Abram) to leave his land and his father’s household to go to a land HaShem will show him. In turn, HaShem promises to abundantly bless Avram, and the parashah records the multi-faceted blessing. Avram obeys, and the parashah records who departed with Avram, how old Avram was when they departed, their initial journeys through Eretz Kena’an (the Land of Canaan), and the altars to HaShem which Avram set up at various locations.

The parashah records how Avram came to sojourn in Mitzrayim (Egypt), the events that occurred there, and how HaShem intervened to rescue Avram’s wife Sarai from Pharaoh. After Avram and his company returned to the place at which Avram had first dwelt, the parashah relates the circumstances surrounding the separation of Avram and his nephew Lot, and where each company settled. It is then that HaShem instructed Avram to look north, south, east, and west to see the Land that HaShem promised to give to Avram and his offspring forever, and to walk the length and breath of the Promised Land.

The parashah continues with the account of a war between the kings in the region, and how Avram’s nephew Lot, the people with him, and his possessions came to be taken captive as spoils of war. Avram is informed, however, and rescues Lot, his people, and his possessions. Malki Tzedek (Melchizedek), Melekh Shalem (King of Salem; later called Yerushalayim / Jerusalem) and Kohein L’El Elyon (Priest of G-d Most High) then visited and blessed Avram, and Avram gave him a tenth of all of his possessions.

After these things, the Word of HaShem came to Avram in a vision and the parashah records the covenant which HaShem cut with Avram at that time, including the promise of an heir, and to his offspring the Promised Land. While Avram’s descendants will be afflicted four-hundred years in Mitzrayim, they will inherit the Land in the fourth generation.

Parashah Lekh-Lekha concludes with a record and explanation of Avram and Sarai’s efforts to try to obtain the promised heir through Sarai’s servant Hagar and the difficulties that result. Yishmael (Ishmael) is born to Avram through Hagar, but the promised heir of Avram is yet to come. HaShem renames Avram Avraham (Abraham), and renames his wife Sarai Sarah. HaShem also gives Avram the covenant of circumcision at this time, and specifies that the heir He promised will be born to him through his wife Sarah, though she is elderly. Nevertheless, HaShem blesses Yishmael at Avraham’s request, and Avraham and all his household, including Yishmael are circumcised.

Torah Portion: Genesis 12:1 – 17:27

1st Aliyah: Genesis 12:1-13 (13 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Genesis 12:14-13:4 (11 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Genesis 13:5-18 (14 verses)
4th Aliyah: Genesis 14:1-20 (20 verses)
5th Aliyah: Genesis 14:21-15:6 (10 verses)
6th Aliyah: Genesis 15:7-17:6 (37 verses)
7th Aliyah: Genesis 17:7-27 (21 verses)
Maftir: Genesis 17:24-27 (4 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Isaiah 40:27 – 41:16

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