There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah of the Torah Portion: Toldot Genesis 23:19-28:9
Aliyah 2 – Genesis 26:6-12
Genesis 26:6 So Yitz’chak settled in G’rar.
It is taught that Isaac never left Israel. Chazal say he was not allowed to because he had become a “living sacrifice” and was not permitted to leave the Holy territory of the Land of Israel.
Genesis 26:7 The men of the place asked him about his wife, and out of fear he said, “She is my sister.” He thought, “If I tell them she’s my wife, they might kill me in order to take Rivkah. After all, she is a beautiful woman.”
Why not say she is your cousins? I suppose the “Sister Maneuver” worked out for Abrhaham, so I can see Isaac figuring it would just as well for him. It’s very human.
Genesis 26:8 But one day, after he had lived there a long time, Avimelekh king of the P’lishtim happened to be looking out of a window when he spotted Yitz’chak caressing Rivkah his wife.
Was Abimelekh spying on them or invading their privacy? Where were they that he could see them acting this way with each other?
Genesis 26:9 Avimelekh summoned Yitz’chak and said, “So she is your wife, after all! How come you said, ‘She is my sister’?” Yitz’chak responded, “Because I thought, ‘I could get killed because of her.’”
Is this the same Abimelekh or perhaps his son? Did they know Isaac as the son of Abaham? I would think the “Sarah Incident” would have been passed down, at least within the palace.
Genesis 26:10 Avimelekh said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people could easily have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!”
How easy was it to sleep with a woman in Gerar at that time? Would the man have not spoken to her “bother” and gotten permission to marry her first? Wouldn’t the truth have likely been revealed in that manner?
Genesis 26:11 Then Avimelekh warned all the people: “Whoever touches this man or his wife will certainly be put to death.”
What kind of treatment were the people of Gerar likely to give to foreigners staying with them? It seems like they were left to themselves before then, why should it change after they were revealed to be husband and wife?
Genesis 26:12 Yitz’chak planted crops in that land and reaped that year a hundred times as much as he had sowed. HaShem had blessed him.
AS a result of the “Sarah Incident” in Gerar before the birth of Isaac, the king gave gifts to Abraham, but here, after the “Rebekkah Deception” Isaac reaps a miraculous bounty from what he planted. The blessing comes from the LORD, not from an earthly king. Why? What is going on here?
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
1. Was Gerar in Israel?
2. Why lie about Rebekkah?
3. Was Gerar Wicked?
That concludes my journey through Toldot for the year 5783.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.