The Sedra Toldos 5774
Education has become an industry in itself, more than simply a vocation centered around imparting knowledge, entire methods of thought have sprung up with the goal of developing better means of educating students. Some of the ideas are new and genuine advancements, while others are merely newfangled.
Just because an idea in education is new doesn’t mean that it is better, and just because a method has been used for years doesn’t mean it is no longer effective. Our Sedra contains a perfect example of appreciation of the old. In this Dvar Torah we’ll look at Yitzchak’s appreciation of his father’s past accomplishments and his loyalty to them. This Dvar Torah aims to give the reader an appreciation of the old.
Years before the episode described in our Sedra, Avraham made a deal with a local warlord named Avimelech. The deal centered around well rights, with Avraham and Avimelech reaching an agreement. In honor of this agreement, Avraham gave Avimelech seven lambs, and named the place of the deal Be’er Sheva (the well of seven).
Years later Yitzchak had a run in with this same Avimelech. Yitzchak’s staff had a run in with Avimelech’s staff over those same wells that Avraham had dug. Avimelech traveled to Yitzchak who questioned Avimelech’s motives, and Avimelech exclaimed, “We have seen that the Lord was with you; so we said: Let there now be an oath between us, between ourselves and you, and let us form a covenant with you.”
Following his father’s actions, Yitzchak seals a covenant with Avimelech, and they feasted together and took oaths to each other. Following Avimelech’s departure life continues as normal and Yitzchak’s staff begins to dig wells in their new area.
Yitzchak’s staff excitedly told Yitzchak that they had found water and had dug a fully functioning well. Yitzchak’s reaction is recorded in our Sedra, “And [Yitzchak] named it Shevah (seven); therefore, the city is named Beer sheba until this very day.” Yitzchak didn’t rename the area after his accomplishment, he commemorated his father’s actions by preserving the name his father had given to the area. Like a good educator recognizing an established practice for the advanced means it provides, Yitzchak recognized his father’s achievements and followed them.
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