Our Sages, Chazal, fill in the blanks of Avraham’s formative years as a spiritual and intellectual role model with impeccable character. He smashes his father’s idols and will even enter into the fiery furnace in the name of his monotheism. But, the question still remains: Why would the Torah not present and highlight all these early accomplishments of Avraham if they are so critical?
First, these are midrashim and they teach us great lessons. But, I would like to focus on the answer of the Sefas Emes, Rav Yehudah Aryeh Alter:
The Sefas Emes quotes a tradition from the Zohar that Lech L'cha, was not merely a private call soley to Avraham. But, it was in fact a universal call. It went out to the entire world. Lech L'cha is a constant proclamation by Hashem to all people, at all times. Yet, says the Sefas Emes, Avraham was the only one able to hear it. Hashem’s command to Avraham was get up, move, force yourself out of your comfort zone and surroundings and challenge yourself, take risks, seek out God, allow yourself to explore a new path for yourself. The ability to hear lech lecha is rare. Most people, like Noach, hear "aseh l’cha" - do for yourself. That being, specifically, black and white details of what to do exactly and how to do it. This is important and it is imperative that directions are followed. Noach did exactly what Hashem required of him. But, the ability to hear lech l'cha requires something different. It is to sense larger truths. It is to begin to travel. To question, like in Sodom and Amorah: HaShofait mi Kol haAretz lo Yaaseh mishpat? Will the Judge of all the world not deal justly?
The call of Lech L'cha is to be aware beyond ourselves of what is going on outside of one’s own self and community. Care about the disadvantaged, disabled, those vulnerable and make a difference in the world. And, when you do, you will hear Hashem’s voice : Lech l’cha – you will change what does not work well and make the world more moral, more Godly.
The Sefas emes teaches that the Torah does tell us that Avraham went as Hashem had spoken to him (Braishit, 12:4). He listened to what God told him to do and acted accordingly.
The reason Avraham was chosen was not because of his previous accomplishments. But, rather, because at this moment he was spiritually sensitive and attuned to hear beyond what was necessary and comfortable for him. He was moved to forge ahead and advance Hashem’s world.
Within our Jewish heritage are those who actively went לדרוש את ה׳ - to seek out God. May we be inspired to hear the insistent call of lech lecha. May we look for ways to help our family, friends and community. But, it is the hope that we look beyond ourselves and intellectually ponder and wonder about what could be made better for others we do not even know and for the betterment of Hashem's world. This is a critical piece of Avraham and Sarah's legacy, what we gives purpose for Klal Yisrael and this is what we need for our world.