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The Chumash – Genesis 21-25

21. The birth of Isaac. If someone prays for mercy on behalf of another when he himself needs that very same thing, he is answered first.

21:3. In order to be truly strong, one must be able to laugh at the world and its seemingly insuperable obstacles.

21:10. any relationship with wicked people would have been harmful to Isaac and his children, as Abraham had recognized when he decided that the could not remain together with Lot.

21:16. She went and sat herself down at a distance, some bowshots away, for she said, “Let me not see the death of the child.” And she sat at a distance, lifted her voice, and wept.

21:16. Her behavior was disgraceful and indicative of her flawed Hamitic character. Rather than comfort her child in his dying moments, she thought only of herself and the discomfort she would feel in the presence of his agony. Therefore, God heard his cry, not hers. Her loud weeping was selfish and therefore valueless.

21:19. God opened her eyes and she perceived a well of water; she went and filled the skin with water and gave the youth to drink. This teaches that God always provides what we need, but we must be ready to open our eyes and see it.

21:25. Then Abraham disputed with Abimelech regarding the well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized. Reproof leads to peace.

22:2. And he said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love – Isaac – an ego to the land of Moriah; bring him up there as an offering upon one of the mountains I shall tell you.”

22. The tenth trial: The Akeidah / Binding of Isaac on the altar.

22:2. There were two reasons why God did not say directly, “Take Isaac.” Firstly, He wanted to avoid giving a sudden command, lest Abraham be accused of complying in a state of disoriented confusion. [This is also a reason for having him travel for three days of reflection before carryon gout the injection.] Additionally, the slow unfolding of the offering’s identity was to make the commandment more precious to Abraham, by arousing his curiosity and rewarding him for complying with every word of the command.

22:17. That I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your offspring like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy.

22:17. Like the stars of the heavens. When Israel complies with God’s will, they resemble the stars of heaven; then no nation can dominate them. But when they flout His will, they resemble the sand of the seashore – trampled by every tyrannical foot.

23. Sarah’s Death, and Purchase of a Burial site. Jewish respect for the dead and concern for the future. We neither reject what has gone before nor neglect what lies ahead. … she is proud that she had succeeded in raising up a son who was willing to give up even his life in the service of God. … In addition, the Torah records the birth of Rebecca before the death of Sarah in line with the tradition that a righteous person is not taken from the world until his or her successor has been born.

23:11. The righteous say little but do much, but the wicked promise much and perform not even a little. They would offer to anoint with oil from an empty flask.

24:3. And I will have you swear. 

24:1-10. The mission to find a wife for Isaac.

Human beings have enormous reservoirs of Strength to draw upon in times of crisis – but only if they are determined to persevere.

Idolatry is an intellectual perversion, and as such it can be remedied, but a lack of morality, ethics, and modesty affects a person’s entire nature, and disqualifies a woman from being the mate of an Isaac.

24:14. Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘please tip your jug so I may drink,’ and ho replies, ‘drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her will You designated for Your servant, for Isaac; and may I know through her that You have done kindness with my master.”

24:14. Ordinarily it is forbidden to base one’s actions on omens, such as Eliezer’s request that a girl’s behavior would be a sign for him. This prohibition, however, applies only to omens unrelated to the choice being made, such as saying that if the sun shines tomorrow it is a sign that I should marry this woman.

24:16. Filled her jug and ascended.

24:16. Unlike the other girls at the well, who wasted their time in idle chatter and gossip, Rebecca did her task quickly and without delay; she filled her jug and immediately ascended.

24:19. I will draw water even fo your camels. 20. So she hurried and emptied her jug into the trough…

24:19. sterling character. her offer to draw the water rather than water them one by one was an indication of compassion.

24:27. He said, “Blessed is HASHEMITE, God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and truth from my master. As for me, HASHEM has guided me on the way to the house of my master’s brothers.’

24:27. Eliezer’s expression of gratitude revealed his own stature as Abraham’s prime disciple and the master of his household. Everything that had happened, he ascribed to the grace of God, and made clear that it was not in his merit, but in Abraham’s. … Eliezer speaks of kindness and truth, because it is important for the two to come together. Kindness alone can be harmful, because it can cause someone to give in to the wishes of the one he loves, even in cases where it is wrong. Therefore, truth must regulate kindness to prevent it from going astray.

24:28-31. Laban ran to Eliezer. … the approach that people generally take in dealing with others – that wicked people should be assumed to act wickedly, even when their actions seem on the surface to be virtuous. People who are known to be righteous should always be given the benefit of the doubt, even when they seem to be acting improperly.

24:32. Abraham’s livestock were muzzled whenever they were away from home, so that they could not graze in other people’s fields.

24:33-39. he refused to eat anything himself until he had completed his mission.

24:38. Abraham’s rejection emphasized not the land but the people – among whom – but Eliezer rephrased it to put the stress on the land. had he quoted Abraham directly, Rebecca’s family might have concluded that Abraham was a difficult, critical person who was prone to find fault with his neighbors, and if so, he would have been equally critical of them if he had lived nearby.

24:39. The accursed cannot unite with the blessed.

24:49. And now, if you intend to do kindness and truth with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, and I will turn t the right tor to the left. — Kindness denotes an intention to do something that is not obligated; while truth, means to give permanence to the kindness.

24:62-67. Isaac and Rebecca. home is a temple and its priestess is the wife and mother whose spirit infuses it.

24:67. This love was inspired by her righteousness and the aptness of deeds, the only criteria upon which the Torah bases the love between husband and wife.

25. Abraham Remarries. Kindness not tempered by Strength can lead to self-indulgence and hedonism; strength without kindness can lead to selfishness and cruelty.

25:22. Jacob and Esau represented cosmic forces in Creation, forces that transcended the normal course of personality development, and that existed even before birth.

25:25. Man must harness his nature and not let his nature harness him. David and Esau had similar personalities, but David utilized it for good and became one of the greatest people who ever lived. Esau let his nature run rampant, and became the eternal symbol of evil and cruelty.

  • juxtaposition
  • cardinal: fundamental
  • crass
  • copiously
  • Hamitic
  • ewes
  • flagrant
  • acrostic
  • devout
  • excruciating
  • yonder
  • debauched
  • flout
  • exorbitant
  • bewail
  • Hittites
  • spulcher
  • veiled
  • sham
  • haggle
  • gradiose
  • supplication
  • prostrated
  • unmuzzled
  • ingratiate
  • sanctimoniously
  • recapitulation
  • imprecation
  • disparaging
  • impudence
  • renege
  • cleave
  • supplicate
  • tangential
  • extraneous
  • appellation
  • yeshivah
  • entreated
  • predicament
  • emulate
  • embryonic
  • purge
  • basest
  • portended
  • plunder
  • adept
  • duplicitous
  • pious

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