[JOI Word of Torah] Big Tent Judaism: Toledot
Kerry M. Olitzky
kolitzky at joi.org
Mon Nov 5 18:10:25 GMT 2007
Big Tent Judaism Word of Torah
November 10, 2007 / 29 Cheshvan, 5768
This is a Torah portion that is replete with tension. It threatens to
explode on the surface of the narrative in each word. We can feel it pulling
at us as each verse unfolds to continue the saga of the ancient patriarchs
and matriarchs of the Jewish people.
This portion is also filled with déjà vu. Each time we read it, we feel as
if we have read it beforeand not just at this time in years past. Isaac
returns to Gerar where his father had been. He pretends that his wife Rachel
is his sisterto protect herjust as his father Abraham had done with
Isaacs mother, Sarah. And then Isaac digs a well in the same place as his
father had dug.
But the tension is what pulls me back to the portion. It is family tension,
the kind that permeates the entire book of Genesis, and it is family tension
that so many try to avoid. So people do what Isaac did. They skirt the truth
and tell themselves that it is to protect those they love when maybe it is
to protect themselves. But they try to follow their parents path (as in
redigging the well of Abraham) because they think that that is the only way
to bring peace to the family. Then they find that they cant recreate the
past. And they have to forge ahead on their own before the life-giving
waters will flow forth and provide them what they need to continue their
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky is the author of many inspiring books that bring the
Jewish wisdom tradition into everyday life, and is most recently the
co-author of 20 Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do
(And Not Do) to Nurture Jewish Identity in Their Grandchildren and Jewish
Holidays: A Brief Introduction for Christians.
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You are welcome to use these ideas in your own work and writings as long as
you would be so kind as to credit Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and the Jewish
Outreach Institute, thank you.
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