Toldot - 5779
Genesis 25:19 – 28:9
Here we go again! In this week’s parasha famine strikes the land, as it did in the time of Abraham, and Isaac brings his household to Abimelech, king of the Philisitines, for safety. The only problem is that, being a stranger, Isaac is afraid – especially because Rebekah was so beautiful. Thinking that someone might kill him to get Rebekah, he lied about their relationship and told everyone that she was his sister instead of his wife – just as his father Abraham had done when he and Sarah sought refuge in Egypt and then again with Abimelech.
As with Abraham’s story, the danger to Isaac seems exaggerated in his own imagination. When Pharoah and Abimelech each found out the truth that Sarah and Abraham were married, they became angry at Abraham, and made sure to respect the marriage. They did not ever threaten his safety. Similarly, when Abimelech learns that Rebekah and Isaac are married he is angry at Isaac for lying, and guarantees both Isaac’s and Rebekah’s safety.
It seems to me that, in the weeks following the killings in Pittsburgh, that we can learn something from our forebears. Should we look to our security? Absolutely, and with a careful and reasoned approach. However, we should never allow our fears prevent us from being true to who we are, or from living with integrity and even pride. Over the centuries and millennia, we have learned some difficult lessons, and as a people, have overcome the darkest of tragedies. It is not fear that carried us through, but rather our strength, our values, and our resiliency.