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TOLDOT, GENESIS 26:19-23

11/20/2020 12:22:33 AM

Nov20

Irene Falkenstein Case

 

19. Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of living water.

20. The herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen saying, 

"The water is ours," so he called the name of that well ESEK (strife) because they argued with him.

21. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also; so they called it SITNAH (causeless hatred).

22. He relocated from there and dug another well; they did not quarrel over it, so he

called its name REHOBOTH, and he said, "For now G-D has granted us ample space, and we will be fruitful in the Land."

23. He went up from there to Beer-Sheva.

Where is this well called "Rehoboth" that the herdsmen of Gerar did not bother to claim it or quarrel over it like they did with the previous two wells?  This well called "Rehoboth" is in the Negev desert, about 20 miles southwest of Beer-Sheva.  The surrounding area is an empty expanse of sand, rock, and dust, devoid of any vegetation. The topography is like the sand dunes near the Arizona-California border off Interstate 8.

 

The events of the lives of the Patriarchs described in the Torah are the precursors of the events of Jewish history.  In 1943 CE a group of Jews established Kibbutz Revivim, located a short distance from the well at Rehoboth because Isaac dug this well at Rehoboth and proclaimed in Genesis 26:22 "For now G-D has granted us ample space, and we will be fruitful in the land".  In 1947, another group of Jews established another kibbutz at Halutza, about 1 km northeast of the well at Rehoboth.  This kibbutz was called "Mashabim" (Shepherd's wells), in honor of the nearby well.  

 

On May 15, 1948, one wing of the Egyptian army invaded the newly founded State of Israel with the mission "To Asluj to Beer-Sheva and onward to Jerusalem".  The capture of Asluj by local Jewish fighters on July 11, 1948, interrupted the Egyptian supply and communications lines, thus forcing the Egyptian army to make a detour much further to the East.  After the fall of Beer-Sheva to the Israeli Army on October 21, 1948, the Egyptian army retreated from all areas north of Nitsana.  In December 1948, the Israeli Army discovered an ancient road from Beer-Sheva through Rehoboth to Nitsana.  The Israeli Army surprised the Egyptian army at Nitsana, thus capturing it and the entire Northern Negev area. From the Negev, the Israeli Army penetrated into the Egyptian territory in the Sinai.  Thus, the 1949 Armistice lines were drawn much further westward, northward, and southward than the 1947 UN Partition lines, giving Israel sovereignty of all of the Negev.

 

We do not know the full spiritual and physical ramifications of the actions and merits of our Patriarchs and the events described in the Torah.  Isaac, the Patriarch whose name means he will laugh, the one who was absurdly born of parents who were 90 and 100 years old, would probably laugh about the absurdity of a few Jewish fighters who fought and won against a much more numerous and better equipped Egyptian army.  After the War of Liberation, many of these Jews did not leave the Negev.  Instead, they built permanent agricultural communities, and made the Negev bloom, in spite of the many challenges of the Negev's harsh environment.  Kibbutz Mashabim moved from its original site near the well at Rehoboth to its present site, much nearer to Beer-Sheva.  In 1952, following the death of another Isaac, Isaac Sadeh, the leader of the Palmach, the pre-state’s elite fighting unit, the kibbutz paid tribute by changing its name from "Mashabim" to "Mashabei Sadeh".  

 

During the winter of 1968-69, I was a volunteer at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh.  One day I was taken to the site of the original kibbutz and the well at Rehoboth.  There were remains of a very dead vineyard and a very ancient well.  

 

Kibbutzim Mashabei Sadeh and Revivim, as well as Rehoboth, Halutza, Nitsana, Naveh, Bnei Netzarim, Shlomit, etc., are all located in a 200 sq. km. area of the Negev known as the "Halutza Sands Dunes".  Halutza Sand Dunes is adjacent to the southern end of the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian border.  

 

You may have heard about Halutza Sand Dunes.  There have been several Peace Talk proposals to give Halutza Sand Dunes to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for areas in Judea-Samaria where Jews are the majority.  The Palestinian Authority has always rejected this land swap deal because Halutza is a barren desert, with sand dunes its most prominent feature.

 

In Genesis 26:22 Isaac had proclaimed about Rehoboth, "For now G-D has granted us ample space, and we will be fruitful in the land."  Isaac did not continue to dwell in Rehoboth.  The next verse states, "He went up from there to Beer-Sheva".  From the time that Isaac left Rehoboth until 1943 CE, there were few, if any, Jews living near Rehoboth.  All the archaeological remains are Greek, Roman, Nabatean, and Byzantine.  Since the Torah does not have any extra words, not even one extra letter, does Isaac’s proclamation about Rehoboth pertain to just the several thousand Jews that currently live in Halutza Sand Dunes?  Or does it pertain to some future time when the Jewish population of Halutza Sand Dunes will be much more numerous?  Starting in 2001, several Israeli governments, with the cooperation of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), approved plans to build several new communities in the Halutza Sand Dunes.  In 2005, thirty evacuated families from Gush Katif decided they would build 3 communities in this area.  The population of just these 3 communities is projected to soon increase to 15,000 residents.  These vibrant agricultural communities testify to the vitality and the tenacity of the Jewish people; to really create something out of nothing.  Hopefully, an increasing number of Jews living in the Halutza Sand Dunes will merit additional blessings from G-d for actualizing in our physical world one of Isaac's proclamations.

 

Nahmanides wrote a commentary about the three wells that Isaac dug.  The first two wells Isaac dug he named ESEK and SITNAH.  They represent the First and Second Temples, as well as the causes that lead to their destruction, Strife, and Causeless Hatred.  The third well, the well at REHOBOTH, meaning “Spacious,” represents the Third and Final Temple that will usher in the age of the Messiah.  Currently, there is a dome located over The Place, HaMakom, The Place where the Third Temple will someday be.  Acts of Loving Kindness and Service to G-d may be required from the Jewish People before G-d will change the current situation at the Temple Mount.  May the Third Temple soon be built, may the Messiah soon come, speedily in our days.  Amen.

Shabbat Shalom

Mon, April 19 2021 7 Iyyar 5781