Parashat Lech-Lecha: Sincerity
Parashat Lech-Lecha begins with Hashem’s command to Abraham that he should leave his homeland and resettle in Eretz Yisrael. This command is regarded as one of Abraham’s ten tests, as he heeded G-d’s call and left everything behind to begin a new life in a distant land.
The status of this command as a "test" comes into question, however, when we consider the continuation of the Pesukim. After instructing Abraham to relocate, G-d promises him that in his new land Abraham would be blessed with great wealth, children and fame. Until that point, as we know, Abraham was childless and poor. Was it really such a "test" for him to heed G-d’s command to move to a different place where he would bear children, become very wealthy, and earn worldwide fame? If G-d would have spoken to us and issued a command to relocate with the same promise of reward, wouldn’t we immediately comply? Why was this a "test" for Abraham?
The answer emerges from a closer reading of the Pasuk that describes Abraham’s compliance with Hashem’s command. The Torah tells, "Va’yelech Abram Ka’asher Diber Elav Hashem" – "Abraham went as G-d had spoken to him." Abraham left his homeland and went to Eretz Yisrael only "as G-d had spoken to him" – in order to fulfill Hashem’s command. He did not go in order to earn the great rewards promised to him. He was driven solely by the sincere desire to serve G-d and do the right thing. It this turns out that the promise of reward is specifically what made this test so difficult. They tempted Abraham to serve G-d for selfish purposes, for his own interests, rather than as a sincere, devoted servant of his Creator.
Let us imagine if a distinguished Sadik asked us to bring him a cup of coffee, promising us $1 million in exchange. Is there any chance we would serve him the cup of coffee strictly out of a desire to do a favor for the Sadik, and not for personal gain? This was the "test" that Abraham Abinu passed.
We, Abraham’s descendants, must strive to serve G-d with this same degree of sincerity. We should not be doing the Misvot for our own selfish interests, or for personal gain. Our primary concern and desire must be to serve our Creator with genuine devotion and love, without any ulterior motives.