Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Issac, Wealth & Wells

Torah study 1-21 Rabbi Janet Marder

Genesis 26:14-22

Isaac and the Philistines Well Water...

Isaac has become wealthy and the Philistines were jealous

Gold and silver vs flocks... Conspicuous wealth changes the dynamic of the relationship with neighbors. Has aroused the resentment of his neighbors.

"One rich man is envious of other rich men particularly if one is a Jew. "

SRH - Envious of the man rather than the wealth..

Philistines destroy the wells... Stop them up.

Abraham's wells from previous verses... Cisterns. Need to be cleaned out from time to time. The philistines are hurting themselves by their actions.

Different reading in allegorical terms... Eli Munk interpret Wells symbol of spiritual and fertility... The cistern is broken vs a well or natural spring. .... Wells are God and cisterns are false gods/idols.

The symbols are that the philistines were blocking the teachings of Isaac and his family.

Parallels future ... Restricted in their right of domicile. He is expelled from the place... Foreshadowed the pattern for the history of the Jews going forward into the diaspora.

A message about displaying ones wealth. We have a positive attitude toward wealth... But many teachings about ostentation ... Dangers of conspicuous wealth..

Causes issues with gentiles

Shame and pain to the poor

Generates an attitude of arrogance

Talmud specifically rules that you should not display wealth to others.

Book THE COLOR PURPLE... Alice Walker... Farmer owned his own farm.. Open store does well. The white merchants jealous. Burns store and lynched.

JAP jokes (Jewish American Princess).

Do Jews today have any feeling of insecurity to show their wealth.

Issue of expulsion. Reason you are bigger than we are... Could also be read. You have gotten wealthy from us...

1306 Philip I'V expelled the Jews from France.. We're tax collectors but then replaced by Italians. Expelled the Jews and took their property...

Example that happened over and over to the Jews in history.

Question if maybe the same concept would apply to the State of Israel ... Their success shown makes their neighbors jealous and want to expel them.

Hafts Chaim. Basis for antisemitism is they believe we are mightier than them. Envy.


Isaac leaves and camps where Abraham once lived..

R. Brant Rosen ... Be open to alternative solutions... Keep trying to find a peaceful way to live.

Isaac did not fight back... Chooses the peaceful way... Characteristic Jewish strategy in history. Worked well until the holocaust .

Wells same names as father gave... A way to establish the rights to the wells.. Original names mark ownership...


Re-dig the well of ones father..

R Bathia. Do not deviate from his fathers ways... Isaac the only patriarch whose name was not changed... Because he was faithful to his fathers way

Peter Pitzilie.... Book Our Fathers Wells... Metaphor for patriarchy.

Engagement with his fathers legacy... In every generation "back to the sources". (another book)

Isaac is the preeminent patriarch.. He returns to his fathers ways... Parallel to Jesus.

Prefix re. Marks the story of Isaac's life. He does repair... He re lives parts of his fathers life.. A conservator of the past !

Nachum Sarna. Anthropological view.... Come across a spring ... Owned by Isaac but the shepherds claim it.... Challenge to this ownership....

Whole Torah about not having a home ... Leads up to the time when they are going to have a home!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Issac & Rebecca in Gerar

Torah Study 1-14 Genesis 26:6-11

Finish the Narrative about Isaac and Rebecca in Gerar

Passinng his wife as sister. - Beauty of Rebecca. Isaac resorts to the same strategy that his father did...

Same phrase that introduced Rebecca is used here. She is still beautiful in his eyes.Apologetic theory there is the wife sister institution. Is a higher status of relation in history...

V8... He had been there a while .. A long time. Says they have not molested her and now he has become complacent.

Rashi... King looking out and down... Looked out the window.

Robert alter. This sets the story apart. King discovers that she is not the sister..

He sees them...

Is he a peeping Tom?

Commentators prefer to think it was in Isaacs home not to think Isaac was fondling her in public.

Laughter enters the story again.. It may have a sexual connotation. Fourth time this verb is used. Rashi. Saw them as having sex. Other commentators have a full range of things but clearly to indicate they are not siblings.

Movie Days of Heaven. Uses this theme.

Robert Alter. Says it reflects on Isaacs character ... He has strong appetites. In food and physical pleasures.

Zohar. Mystical text. Righteous do not have sex in the daytime. King was looking at stars and saw this was indicated in the stars...

Talmud... No sex during the day. Very odd explanation that relates to possibly finding your partner not attractive.

Avimelach response... "WHAT". No excuses. Isaac "stumbles out the truth"

Eli Munk. Opinion if him is diminished due to his lie.

Robert Alter writes about Type Scenes... Repetition of stories in themes and he is known to analyze the differences.

Avimelach. Says that one of the people may have lain with her... He is describing the culture of the place...

Midrash Rashi...the distinguished one... He is saying the it is the king who might have lain with her.

Brought guilt upon us... If king did that it would effect the entire country. The health of the culture is reflected by the moral standing of the leaders.

Comparing the three stories.

Gen 12 ... Took place in Egypt. Ends with his leaving with wealth ...forecast of Exodus.

Gen 20 ... God intervenes... And then the Aikidah.

Gen 26. ... God does not appear. Naturalistic... Sets up for the next scene where Isaac is deceived.

What does our tradition say about telling truth... Says it is okay if it is to save life... Relation with peace and kindness. Truth is not always the highest value in halacha.

V12 is the conclusion. He reaped 100 fold... God blessed him. Fulfillment of the blessing.Isaac becomes wealthy through agriculture .... Temporary

Rashi... Sewed in that land and reaped 100 fold in that year.. To show that the earth and the year was hard/difficult... Thus the Devine helped.

why 100 for? Quantifies because of the tithe requirement. Isaac the first who gives the tithe to the poor and this is why he is blessed

V13. Trouble enters.. Isaac gets wealthy.

Rashi... Focus on the manure of Isaac rather than the wealth of the king... Creates some resentment.

Hassidic commentary.. The philistines were stingy... Coveted Isaacs holdings.

Acquired flocks and herds and servants.. Philistines were jealous.

"Jealousy of scholarship beings wisdom to the world"

This foreshadows the history of our people going forward..

Eli Munk. Three aspects of Jewish life. Servitude, wealth then exile.

Three stages... Servitude, freedom, win respect of the nations as Abraham did.

SRH... Jacob, Isaac, Abraham. Reverse order

Suffering, prosperity, the harmony .