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11/18/2022 01:17:47 PM


Due to a computer glitch (on the part of my computer) my "Blog" for Va-yeira' was not published last week. Since it remains most relevant, especially in light of the recent vote at the UN concerning the Intenational Court of Justice (sic!), it is appropriate to reprint it for this week, with a few changes and an addition:

Two weeks ago, I referred to the sharp divide among Israelis concerning the Israeli election, and in that context mentioned Rashi's comment as to the purpose of the whole Book of Genesis: to show the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

Last week, we had the American mid-term elections, and the concern of many Jews was how the outcome could affect America's relation to Israel.

So, here is a thought that I have discussed in CS in years past, and deserves repetition now:

Last week's parasha tells of (a) in the 4th and 5th aliya,the birth of Isaac: mirabile dictu, for he was born to a mother who was a most senior citizen, and who even in her younger years had been unable to conceive.

(b) in the 6th aliya, we read that Avraham made a peace treaty with Avimelech, king of the residents of Gaza.

>> When I was younger, I always assumed that we can see from here the importance of making peace treaties.

(c) But then, in the 7th aliya, HaShem tells Avraham to sacrifice this son Isaac.

What!? How can that be?

Well, the great commentator Rashbam (grandson of Rashi,) notes the juxtaposition of the two stories: namely, the peace treaty and the birth of Isaac. Rashbam says that this is a lesson for Abraham and his descendants: just as Isaac's life seemed to be in peril, were he not saved by a last minute reprieve from an angel, so "the Holy One was angered by this treaty, for the land of the Plishtim [i.e. Gaza and environs] was included in the territory of Israel... and that's why God tested Abraham, and caused him anguish [by telling him to sacrifice Isaac]..."

To be fair, to the best of my knowledge, Rashbam is the only one of the classic early commentators with that point of view, but never-the-less it is a point worth considering.

In this week's parasha of Hayei Sarah, the first thing Abraham does is to demonstrate his ownership of the Land, by purchasing property, despite the exorbitant price being requested by the Hittite!

May the leaders of Israel and its allies have the wisdom to do what is right!

Shabbat shalom.

Rabbi Menahem White

Sun, April 2 2023 11 Nisan 5783