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October 26, 2013 / conservadox

Dvar Torah – Toldot

In this coming week’s portion, Isaac goes to Gerar, and tells people his wife is really his sister (Gen. 26:6).  Like his father (Gen. 20:2) he tells people his wife is really his sister.

Scharfstein says “Isaac does exactly the same as his father did before him.”   I just went to a class at Drisha on this, and there is a difference.

Abraham (according to Scharfstein’s own translation) “announced that his wife Sarah was his sister” (20:2)- a phrase implying that Abraham took the initative, presumably after some premeditation.  By contrast, “[w]hen the residents asked about his wife, he [Isaac] told them that she was his sister.” (Gen. 26:7).  The implication is that Isaac deceived people but only after being asked.

In addition, Isaac can’t bring himself to be a careful liar: the king sees him “embracing* his wife Rebecca” (Gen.26:8)

Abraham is a little deceptive- maybe understandably so given the circumstances.  Isaac’s deception is a matter of impulse rather than of craft, and is easily given away.  We don’t really know why this is: is Isaac more naturally honest?  Is he just less smart?

At any rate, the reaction of the Gerarites is very different.

They take Sarah away, while never bothering to hassle Rebecca.  We don’t know why this is.  But it is possible that civilization has advanced, and they are a trifle less barbaric.  (On the other hand, it is possible that the king not seen Isaac and Rebecca acting like man and wife the same thing would have happened).

Also, it takes a Divine revelation to make the king lay off Sarah. By contrast,the Isaac story is much more natural.

In both situations, the king is indignant.  But in the first, he pays off Abraham for some reason.  In the second, he tells Isaac to go about his business, but does not pay him anything.

What’s the Torah telling us here?  Is it making a value judgment here as well?  Maybe because the king behaved more decently he feels less of a need to bribe the foreigner.

On the other hand, nobody (other than the patriarchs themselves, and not in these stories) is asking women about their own opinions quite yet.

*I note that not all translations are this G-rated.


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