Hayai Sarah and Continuity
In the past two weeks I shared in three, meaningful rabbinic and clergy-sponsored activities.
The first (as I described last week )was a breakfast and discussion featuring Nehemiah Peres: son of Shimon Peres. He spoke about his father’s vision of always looking forward. To Peres, looking toward the future required big dreams; which would require much courage, perseverance and resiliency to fulfill.
The second activity was a clergy interfaith tour of the exhibit about the capture of Adolf Eichmann. The exhibit is on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. Among the participants was Saeed Abedini; an Iranian born, a Christian pastor who converted from Islam. Abedini had established small churches in Iran, before becoming a US citizen in 2010. When he tried to enter Iran in 2012 to visit his parents he was arrested and eventually convicted of threatening Iran’s security, He spent several years in an Iranian prison before being released and allowed to re-enter the US. How fitting that a man with the courage to dream big; would join us for an exhibit about a diabolical murderer brought to justice by big Jewish dreamers who established the State of Israel.
The third activity was a dialogue (sponsored by AIPAC) between rabbis and Daniel Shapiro; US Ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration. Ambassador Shapiro shared both the challenges and the achievements of the Obama -Netanyahu relationship.
In all three activities a central theme was continuity; the future survival and flourishing of the Jewish people. Shimon Peres always directed his work toward future peace. In capturing and trying Eichmann the world bore witness to a resilient and defiant Jewish people; who would never succumb to even its most barbaric enemies. Finally, Ambassador Shapiro spoke about achievements which insured the future security of the Jewish State. Those achievements (the UN vote notwithstanding) reflected the unwavering partnership between Israel and the United States.
The theme of continuity and Jewish survival is also a central theme in the Torah portion Hayai Sarah.
As Isaac reaches adulthood, Abraham instructs his servant to go back to Abraham’s ancestral home to seek a wife for Isaac. Matchmaking, we know, was standard practice in antiquity. But aside from sharing ancient custom, the Torah emphasizes how Isaac’s future partner will help insure the future of this newly created Jewish nation. Finding Rebekah therefore, was the most important objective for Abraham before he dies.
Through Rebekah and Isaac, the Jewish people will live on.
For the future to happen Abraham must think big; not being satisfied with a wife from one of the local, Canaanite tribes. Those tribes sported lifestyles, which were incompatible with the new vision of Abraham and the future vision of Israel.
Abraham dreamed big, because the future history of Am Yisrael would demand visionaries dreaming big dreams. Let us hope that the future will always bring us big, Jewish dreamers; dreamers who have the courage and passion to insure the continuity of our religion.