Once a renowned cardiologist visited the Rebbe. “You should devote your attention to treating healthy people, not only the sick,” the Rebbe told him.

“Am I to improve on what the Almighty has done?” questioned the doctor.

“Yes,” responded the Rebbe. “An ordinary laymen, and how much more so a doctor, should be able to improve on what the Almighty has done.”

“Are you asking me to make man perfect?” answered the doctor.

“No,” the Rebbe responded. “Making people perfect is a job for Mashiach. But every person should try to make his life and those of the people around him a little bit better.”

As the following concepts emphasize, each of us has his or her own mission in making our portion of the world “a little bit better.” Often, our missions are intertwined, and as one person steps forward, he takes others with him.

Parshas Lech Lecha

This week’s Torah portion is named Lech Lecha, recalling G‑d’s first command to Abraham. Lech means “go.” G‑d was telling him to go out, to leave his native land and his father’s household, to emerge from the cocoon of protected existence and set out on his own path in the world.

Our Rabbis interpret the second word lecha as meaning “for yourself.” Rashi explains that setting out on such a journey is fraught with danger, and there was a possibility that Abraham would lose everything he had. Therefore G‑d promised him that the journey would be to his benefit. His wealth, his family, and his reputation would increase.

R. Moshe Alshich offers a deeper interpretation. Lecha means “to yourself.” By journeying throughout the world, Abraham was setting out on a path of self-discovery. The purpose of his journey to Eretz Yisrael, his descent to Egypt, his return to the land, and all his wanderings was intended to enable him to understand his own identity and express his positive qualities in his surrounding environment.

Abraham’s story is not merely a page from a history book. On the contrary, as our Rabbis teach, “The deeds of our forefathers are a sign for their children.” Abraham was a singular individual, one man who taught the belief in G‑d to a world that did not want to listen.

We are, however, all singularly unique. The Baal Shem Tov taught that G‑d loves every Jew with the love parents lavish on an only child born to them in their old age. Just as He commanded and guided Abraham on a journey to his true self, so, too, with loving patience, He guides each one of us on our own journey through life. Through a web of interlocking designs, He directs us all to a common intent — that we each reveal to ourselves and to others the unique G‑dly potentials that we have been granted.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything which a person sees or hears serves as a lesson for him in his relationship with G‑d. Since everything that happens in this world is controlled by Divine providence, and man was “created solely to serve his Creator,” it follows that any and every event or entity that a person encounters is intended to help him advance his relationship with G‑d.

For that purpose, G‑d leads us all from the cradle onward, step by step, through a variety of experiences — the sum total of which are intended to enable us to discover and express our inner G‑dly potential.

When Abraham set out on his journey, he took with him “the souls he had made in Charan”: the people he had motivated to join him in his mission. This too is a lesson. Man’s journey through life is not intended to be a lonely trek on mountain crags or in desert settings. Quite the contrary, G‑d leads us through a world with other people with whom we interact in synergy, both giving and receiving. For they are on similar journeys, parallel in purpose if not necessarily in route.

As a person grows to appreciate these concepts, he will be able to maximize his opportunities in life, making his experiences happier and more fruitful. He will not be encumbered by fear or worry, because he will realize that at every moment, a watching hand is guiding him, directing him to encounters intended to advance his personal growth and his contribution to the world.

Looking to the Horizon

As Abraham’s descendants, we are all in the midst of following a similar journey. We are traveling to Eretz Yisrael, preparing ourselves and the world at large for the time when we will return to that land led by Mashiach.

We — like our forefather Abraham — are going “to the land that I will show you.” For the nature of our people’s path through the generations is one that confounds all students of history because it is G‑dly — a chronicle that no man could or would logically devise or foresee.

And through identifying with this process, a person develops a unique appreciation of his or her own self. “I, [i.e., G‑d,] will reveal you, [i.e., the spiritual core that we all possess].” Through seeing this journey as one’s own and accepting one’s role in it, each of us can rise above his own individual concerns and endow his life with significance that is truly cosmic in nature. As one strives to achieve these goals, he or she will discover a new and deeper understanding of who he or she really is.