Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vayeira - Standing Up for What's Ours!!

In this week's parsha of Vayeira, Avimelech the king of Gerar brought his mighty general Phicol to force/intimidate our Patriarch Avraham into a one-sided agreement. 
Avimelech said, "G-d is with you in all that you do. Now swear to me here by G-d that you will not deal falsely with me nor with my child nor with my grandchild..." (Bereishit 21:23)
Avimelech didn't say, "Let's make a pact. Let's live in peace forever. I'll never hurt you and your family. You never hurt me or my family." It was a one sided agreement that Avraham would never take any actions against Avimelech or his family. That sort of sounds like the agreements of today, re: the State of Israel and its enemies. Israel has to undertake confidence building measures for the Arab enemy, but they don't have to do anything. Israel is pushed to give of its G-d given land, Eretz Yisrael to our enemies but receives nothing in return.
Rabbi David Marcus, who gives a weekly shiur in "Horim v'Yeladim" (Parent and Child Learning) which I am privileged to attend with Shir Tehilla, quoted chazal and said, "How do we know that this treaty with Avimelech was wrong on Avraham's part?" Because right after the story of Avimelech, the Torah tells us that Hashem commanded Avraham to bring his own son Yitzchak up to Har HaMoriah (Mount Moriah) to be prepared as an olah (sacrifice).
Hashem promised Avraham the entire land of Israel, and then Avraham makes a treaty that prevents him from liberating it.
Rabbi Marcus told a story about the city of Yevus (ancient Jerusalem). Outside the city there was a statue of a blind man and a staff of an injured man. Those were symbols of our Patriarchs Yitzchak (the blind man) and Yaakov (who was injured in his thigh by an angel), and they were warnings to the Jewish people not to attack the city of Avimelech's descendants. For generations, even during the conquest of the Land of Israel by Yehoshua, Yevus was never captured.
It took many generations until David HaMelech came and said, "The agreement between our forefathers has long expired. Besides that, your great-great-grandfather broke the agreement almost immediately - destroying Avraham's wells as soon as he left Gerar."
So, B"H, King David conquered the city of Yevus, ruled there for 33 years and there declared it the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Marcus said that Avraham had no right to make an agreement with Avimelech. That leads into question who were the rightful owners of the Land. Avraham should have said, "G-d gave me the entire Land of Israel. I don't need to make an agreement for my own land."
And that is the problem today. We know "Maasei Avot Siman Le'Banim", the actions of our forefathers are a sign for their descendants. So too, today when world leaders try to force Israel into making agreements about the Land of Israel with our enemy, we should say, "The Land of Israel is ours. G-d gave us the entire Land, and I don't have to make agreements on it. The Jewish people own all of it."
But history repeats itself again and again, and because we do not learn from our mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them.
The Three Places That are Most Challenged
Next week, IY"H, we will read Parshat Chayei Sara. In that parsha Avraham buys a lot of land in Chevron from Efron. Now, Avraham made all these agreements and also purchased the land because he wanted to show his love of Shalom, peace' with all man. But Avraham was given all the Land by Hashem. His purchase of what was rightfully his has caused an eternal denial of the Jewish people's right to Chevron and the entire Land of Israel.
The same goes for the other two places that the Jewish people bought for cash money - Kever Yosef and Har HaMoriah (the place of the Holy Temple). Although some may say, "These three places are unequivocally Jewish, because we bought them with cash money, the nations say, "No, your purchase of these areas is proof that you did not own these three spots, neither did you own any of Eretz Yisrael. If you had owned them, you would not have needed to purchase them." And the nations are right.
Sometimes we are so afraid of others, so desirous to make others love us, so eager to look well in the eyes of the "world" that we bend over backwards to be super-moral, super-right. These actions do not make us look good to anyone. They make us look like freiers (patsies).
And because of these purchases and agreements on our own lands, the Jewish people have been paying a terrible price for thousands of years.
Avraham was a man of kindness, chesed, peace, love of mankind. But he was also the Ivri (the man from the other side). While the entire world thought one thing, he thought another. While the entire world acted one way, he acted another. He lived always one man against the world, with Hashem on his side. I can't imagine he was afraid what others would have said or done.
O' would that our father Abraham could have stood up and said aloud, "All the Land of Israel belongs to me." That could have changed history. The whole word looked at him as a "prince of G-d". I think they would have respected his words.
Still, his actions and their repercussions should be a lesson to us today. The Jewish people must stand up for what is ours. We do not have to buy or make deals on what is ours. Eretz Yisrael is our G-d given inheritance. Eretz Yisrael is ours.
Please share Savta's Torah thoughts with our next generation, and let them enjoy this Parsha song of old:

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