Question: The Torah tells us that the Creator told Abraham what land he should go to from Babylon. So, did he initially know where he was going?
Answer: No. It is not about the coordinates on a map. If we do not think about millennia of history, we do not consider kilometers of the earth’s surface either. Time and distance have no control there. When a person’s inner feeling, called “his Creator,” tells him what to seek, where to go, it means that he should move not to another location, to a new place of residence, but on to the next spiritual state, which will be called “the land of Israel.”
Question: That is the “land” that he found in himself?
Answer: Of course. Because the concept of “land” (Eretz) is derived from the “desire” (Ratzon). “Eretz Yisrael” means the desire aimed “straight to the Creator” (Yashar-El). When you get to the point where all your desires are directed to the Creator, then one would say that you arrived, entered “the land of Israel,” whether you are in Canada, in Africa, in the US, or anywhere. After all, our body is not taken into account. The whole matter is in a person’s desire.
Let’s go back to Abraham; he worked with his students on unity. Many Kabbalists write about this, especially Maimonides, the great Kabbalist of the 11-12th century. Abraham began to work with them according to the system “love thy neighbor as yourself,” and thus began to unite, assemble, and “form” a completely new society from them, in which everyone was internally connected to everyone else.
States, countries, and people are also connected, but externally, meaning that they have health care systems, social security, laws, education, etc. But we are not talking not about the external but the internal systems of connection between people. This approach of Abraham’s is different from the concept of Nimrod, who offered people dispersing so as not to interfere with each other and, at the same time, keeping in touch from afar.
It would seem, indeed, let the diplomats negotiate, let traders take caravans along the “Silk Road” or “from the Vikings to the Greeks,” let the sailors discover America, etc. But here we are talking about another journey, about connecting with each other internally. We are not talking about bodies, but intentions, focus, and overcoming internal obstacles. A person travels not in the mountains, not through the Sinai desert, but through the desert of the soul, because he feels his attitude towards others is a wasteland that dries him out, in which there is nothing with which to be fulfilled.
That is why the way to get closer to others is through the desert. Then, a person really gets closer to them; internally through the “Sinai desert” he comes to the “land of Israel.” And here he finds his desire “flowing with milk and honey,” emanating, “radiating” all the good things.
In essence, this is a “paradise.” In the past there was a desert, or even “hell,” and now the “Garden of Eden.” Unwillingness to come into contact with others, hatred of one’s neighbor, all of this is turned into goodness.
From KabTV’s “Babylon Yesterday and Today” 8/27/14