This week's Torah portion hints that God guides Rebekah not to the son who is “older and wiser,” but to the one who is “more apt” to lead a nation. In this moment that breaks the norms we’ve come to know, the Torah suggests that in some cases character might be more important than experience.
George was sick the day I took over for him at Kibbutz Ramat HaShofet, which is also the day I came to a new understanding of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Who are the Jews? This is the sort of question that has generated countless answers. There is the historical approach, which will track our origins at least to an ancient Egyptian stele, or stone column, with an inscription that mentions how they “laid waste” to the Kingdom of Israel, thousands of years ago. There is a biological answer as there are definite genetic markers that the priestly class of kohenim carry. There of course is a religious answer, in which the Jews offer to the world the purest, earliest form of monotheism.
The name of our Torah portion this week, Vayera, means “and he saw.” Perhaps this is a reminder that really seeing each other is more than a visual cue. The real value of human connection is to see when someone is in need.
An Israeli election in which a far-right demagogue gains power. Upcoming American and local elections which will redraw assumptions. Fear of crime and homelessness. Skyrocketing gas and food prices. A regional war in Ukraine that is spreading its impact to all corners of the globe. Kyrie Irving, Kanye West, and the rising tide of antisemitism.
It feels like as the kids get older and our lives get busier, we accumulate more and more stuff. This feeling certainly isn’t unique to our family. In fact, Avraham and Lot teach us about some of this in our Torah portion this week.