The first challenge Abraham faced in the Promised Land was the famine that set in immediately upon his arrival, forcing him to temporarily relocate to neighboring Egypt.
Transforming Descent into Ascent
וַיְהִי כְּבוֹא אַבְרָם מִצְרָיְמָה וגו': (בראשית יב:יד)
When Abraham came to Egypt . . . Genesis 12:14

Instead of being allowed to pursue his monotheistic revival in G‑d’s Promised Land, Abraham was thrust into the world’s most prominent bastion of paganism. How ironic it must have seemed to witness this ambitious monotheist suddenly reduced to seeking the mercy of a cultural environment that mocked his every ideal.

Yet, in a miraculous reversal of fortune, Abraham soon had the Egyptians begging him for mercy, and shortly thereafter returned to the Land of Israel with greater wealth, with a greater reputation, and accompanied by Hagar, the Egyptian princess who would, in time, become the mother of Ishmael, his first child. It thus became retroactively clear that this apparent regression was actually a further stage in Abraham’s progression toward his goals.

Similarly, we must never be intimidated by the world – neither by the world outside us nor by the “world” of personal desires, fears, or preconceived notions within us. Once we answer G‑d’s call to “go, to yourself,” we are no longer bound by the limits of our own capabilities; even apparent regressions will ultimately prove to be an integral part of the process leading to ever-higher realizations of our Divine purpose in life.1