Yitzchak’s Disengagement

In Parshat Toldot, Breisheet 26:1-3, there is a famine in the Land so Yitzchak and Rivka head down to Avimelech, king of the Plishtim in Grar (region of the Gaza strip) as Avraham did. God appeared to Yitzchak and said:

“Do not go down to Egypt: dwell (shchon) in the land which I will make known to you. Reside (gur) in this land and I will be with you and bless you for to your descendents I will give all these lands (kol ha’artzot ha’el). I will thus fulfill the oath that I swore to Avraham, your father.”

The Midrash in Breisheet Rabba 64:3 explains that the name of the city, Grar comes from the word Garua (the worst) as the area of the Gaza strip was dry without water or good air. Rabbi Dostai taught in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman: it is a bad settlement, not good for planting and not good for living. This settlement extends until the Straits of Egypt, the Southern border of Israel on the Southwestern side.

Even though Yitzchak lived in the worst spot within Israel’s borders, he still was able to find blessings there. As we see in Breisheet 26:12-13:

Yitzchak planted in that land. That year he reaped a hundred fold, for God had blessed him. The man prospered. He continued to prosper until he became very great.

Unfortunately, we see in verses 14-17 that Yitzchak’s success did not last:

He owned flocks and sheep, herds of cattle, and many slaves, and the Plishtim were jealous of him. All the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father, Avraham- the Plishtim plugged them, and filled them with earth. Avimelech said to Yitzvhak “Go away from us. You have become more powerful than us.” Yitzchak went away from there…

However, once Yitzchak was back in Be’er Sheva, Avimelech and Pichol, his general went to meet with Yitzchak in order to make peace.

In sentence 31 they make the peace treaty: “They got up early in the morning, and they each swore to the other. Yitzchak sent them away and they left in peace.”

The Midrash then asks why it says: “For to you and to your seed I will give all of these lands (aratzot ha’el)” in shortened form.

The Midrash answers: It says “ha’el” and not “ha’ela” to teach that God is only giving some of the promised lands to His children in this world (in the days of Yehoshua, David and Shlomo). And when will He give the rest? In the future, in the days of the Mashiach they will receive all ten lands as promised to Avraham.

In Jewish history we have a concept of “Maaseh Avot Siman Libanim”, what happened to our forefathers will happen to their descendents.

So much of what happened to Yitzchak has happened in our lifetime as well. In 1967, Israel returned to the Gaza strip and made it grow and bloom by creating 21 beautiful settlements.

For the sake of peace, Yitzchak left the region. Fifteen years ago, in 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip, also for the sake of peace. However, since the Israelis left Gaza, the situation has deteriorated. Rockets, balloons with bombs attached and explosive kites are being launched into Israel on a regular basis.

Those who were forced to leave Gaza during the disengagement believe that one day they will go back and rebuild their lives there.

May we see a time of peace and tranquility on the border of the Gaza strip and throughout Israel.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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