XII:1 And God said unto Abram, isolate thyself from thy country and from thy birthplace and from the house of thy father, unto the land which I shall show thee. 2. And I will make thee unto a great nation and I will bless thee, and I would make thy name great; become thou a blessing! And I would bless them that bless thee, and who curseth thee, will I curse; and through thee all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Why the word, "isolate?" In many translations, the words used are "take yourself" or "remove yourself." In looking through Rav Hirsch's commentaries, however, especially when we consider the Hebrew surrounding this phrase, we see that God's intention was literally to have Abram "isolate" himself. Why? First, we know from the Midrash, that Abram's father was a manufacturer of Idol's in the area controlled by King Nimrod, who worshipped idols and commanded his people to worship idols. Thus, we can see how if Abram were to become the father of a great nation, he must first leave that element of his being behind.
Second, it seems as if God is telling Abram to isolate himself for the purpose of coming to understand what it is that God wants him to learn. Is there a lesson here for us? Of course. Whether it is in terms of people, or it in terms of environment, that which surrounds us has an effect on us. It is impossible to be insulated. Thus, part of our own well-being is contained in where we live, the people we are with, our employment. In other words, to reach our goals, it is necessary to choose these things carefully and with deliberation. When we surround ourselves with people who are supportive, who show love and support, we not only grow, we flourish. When we live in a place that is "home" to us, we have sanctuary. When we work in a field, whether as a way to earn a living or on a volunteer basis, that provides a sense of accomplishment, we grow intellectually. When we associate with people who are spiritually like-minded, we become more spiritual ourselves.
And what other results are there? We become blessed. Those that bless us are blessed. Those that curse us are cursed in that they cannot benefit from the positive things that are in us. And when we let our light shine forth, it can have a wonderful effect on all those around us, and more.
Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll
Stone Edition Chumash and from
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash
Torah Portions Archive
here or Torah for Tots