Thursday, November 15, 2012

Missiles in the South and Parashat Toldot

This week's parsha finds Isaac in the South, the Negev, under attack. The people of Gerar perceive him as a foreigner, accusing him of usurping their land, and they challenge his right to live in the region. However, in contrast to Abraham who is a transient shepherd, Isaac is a farmer who is deeply connected to the land, making the desert bloom and digging for water deep into the soil. He refuses to be intimidated into abandoning his farm, his land. He digs and finds a well of spring water. He gives it a name - "Esek" - which means contention or dispute. Isaac is not flustered. He digs another well and names it "Sitnah" - Enmity or Hostility. Clearly the conflict continues unabated. Isaac represents the quality of Gevurah, tenacity, persistence, and he doesn't give up. However, the 3rd well that he digs reflects the fact that he has prevailed in his struggle. He calls it "Rehovot" indicative of space, relief, calm. Once the people of Gerar understand that he is not going to leave, and that he is growing stronger, they accept his presence and approach him to make peace. (Read Genesis 26:12-33.)

This could not be more relevant and resonant to events "down South" this week. We, like our father Isaac, will grip the land, and we will not be intimidated by those who seek to dislodge us. We too will persist so that we may flourish here, and eventually, when they accept our presence here, achieve peace with our neighbours.

Shabbat Shalom!

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