Lech Lecha(Genesis 12-17)
Hashem said to Avram, "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you." (Gen. 12:1)
This week's Torah portion begins with Avraham's first trial: to give up his entire past and follow God's lead to a new land. It was a challenge for Avraham to desert his aged father and leave his homeland. The question arises: since God knows all future events and how every person will respond to any given situation, why was it necessary to test Avraham?
There was a man who trained to become a public speaker. He read all the material he found on the subject and learned many great techniques. He watched some of the most professional and charismatic speakers in the business, and spent many hours practicing in front of the mirror. However, this man would still not be considered a public speaker. He may know all the information, but until he actually lectures, standing in front of an audience to speak, it is all theoretical. It may be hard and uncomfortable for him to speak, but that is the only way he can really advance.
Similarly, a man with an anger problem can learn about the dangers of anger and promise that he'll never get angry again, but until he is put in a challenging situation we cannot say that the man has changed. A test is what brings a person to the next level. Putting everything you know into action makes all the difference.
God knew that Avraham would pass the test. However, He still tested Avraham to enable him to become greater. By Avraham choosing correctly he put his potential into action and made himself into a greater person.(1)
"Lech Lecha" literally means "Go to yourself." A trial brings out the abilities and potential that is buried deep within a person. When a difficult or annoying situation comes your way, instead of thinking, "Oh no, this is not what I need now," you can view it as an opportunity for growth. An opportunity to make yourself into a greater person.
1. Ramban Bereishis 22:1.