The name of a Torah portion is, of course, indicative of its general content, inasmuch as the title applies equally to all its verses. This is also true regarding Lech Lecha , “Go for your own sake” — a title that implies a continual moving forward.

The general meaning of forward movement in the life of a Jew, prefigured by the journey of Avraham — the first Jew — is a constant spiritual elevation through divine service, the reason for which man was created.1

The beginning of Lech Lecha describes how Avraham fulfilled G‑d’s command to “move forth from your land, birthplace and father’s home,”2 by completing his father’s journey to Eretz Yisrael. It then goes on to chronicle how Avraham continued to journey in the direction of Jerusalem and the Beis HaMikdash.3

The above facts thus detail Avraham’s constant spiritual climb, forever attaining more sublime spiritual levels.

However, soon afterwards the Torah relates how a famine in Eretz Yisrael forced Avraham to descend to Egypt, a land whose spiritual degradation was such that is was called the “abomination of the earth.”4

How does this descent conform with a title that refers to continual spiritual ascent?

Our Sages inform us5 that “All the events that transpired with the Patriarchs serve as a sign to their progeny.” This means that not only were these events the forerunners of similar ones involving the Jewish nation, but also that the trailblazing of the Patriarchs brought about those ensuing events.

Thus the Zohar says6 that Avraham’s descent to Egypt led to the subsequent exile of the Jewish people there, and understandably, Avraham’s ensuing ascent from Egypt made possible the Jewish people’s subsequent exodus and elevation. Similarly, since Avraham left Egypt “heavily laden with livestock, silver and gold,”7 the Jewish people would leave Egypt with great wealth.

Accordingly, it is to be understood that the ultimate meaning of Avraham’s descent into Egypt is indeed alluded to in the title Lech Lecha ; his descent into Egypt was a necessary prerequisite to his subsequent ascent, “heavily laden with livestock, silver and gold.” Therefore, this descent was part and parcel of his later ascent.

The same holds true with regard to our own spiritual debasement in the present Exile — an exile rooted in the Egyptian exile, the source of all later exiles.8

The ultimate intent of this exile is the enabling the Jewish people — through their spiritual service under the most trying circumstances — to reach an even loftier level than that attained during the time of the Beis HaMikdash.9 Thus, the present descent is in itself truly part of the coming ascent.

The above helps immeasurably in terms of our own spiritual service. When one ponders the current state of the world, one may well despair of ever vanquishing the spiritual darkness and illuminating the world with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

In truth, however, all these descents and concealments are merely external. On a more sublime level, since G‑d conducts the world according to His will and since He desires that all creation attain spiritual perfection, even those things that seem to indicate darkness and a headlong fall are but a prerequisite for refinement, illumination and soaring ascent.

Thus, since the present state of affairs is truly part and parcel of the coming ascent. The world overall is indeed becoming holier day by day, and ultimately will attain completion as a wholly fit dwelling place for G‑d.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. V, pp. 57-63.