This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
A double gift
Isaac blesses his son Jacob: "...And may G-d give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fat of the earth..." The famed commentator Rashi explains the implication of the words "And may G-d give you": "The Al-mighty will give, and give again."
What was missing in G-d's initial giving, that could be perfected and completed by a second giving? Man is finite, limited; should he give even a magnificent and generous gift to another, it can still be improved upon by additional giving. But even the initial "gift" of the omnipotent and perfect Creator would be perfect. What could be added by "giving again"?
Flow Chart of Goodness
Kindness is often presented as a central virtue of the Jewish people. Abraham, the hero of our parshah, together with his wife Sarah, is a paradigm of kindness. One sees their hospitality to wayfarers at the beginning of the parshah, and later G-d says that He loves Abraham because "he will instruct his household after him to keep the way of G-d, doing charity and justice" (Genesis 18:19).
"Charity and justice" signify acts of kindness, and the Talmud cites this verse when it declares that there are three distinguishing features of the Jewish people, the descendants of Abraham: They are 1) modest, 2) merciful, and they 3) do acts of kindness. "Anyone who has these qualities," the Talmud goes on to say, "is fit to join the Jewish people."
Rags to Riches!
A common theme in Jewish life is the "rags to riches" story. A person is born and brought up in modest surroundings, with simple parents. The story then might continue in a number of ways.
One is that he leaves school at sixteen, becomes a barrow boy in the market and some years later is the chairman of a large business corporation. Another is that from his local school he wins a scholarship to Oxbridge and eventually becomes a famous scientist. This pattern of leaving one's background in order to conquer new frontiers has many variations. It is intriguing the way that although, of course, this is not restricted to Jews, nonetheless it is a typically Jewish story.