Asher Rohberger "What should we learn from Forefather Yitzhak?"

Our forefather Yitzhak, like Abraham, lives a significant part of his life in the Land of Grar. If anyone does not know, the biblical Grar is Gush Katif with adjoining areas of the northwestern Negev. Yitzhak continues the work of Abraham, but he already has his own way of serving the Creator.

“And Isaac sowed in that land, and he gathered in that year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him." (Breishit 26, 12). According to Rav Chaim Ben Atar, better known by the title of his commentary on the Torah "Ohr HaChaim", Yitzhak completed what Abraham did not do. But the forefather Abraham only lived on this earth and went around it, but this was not a complete possession. Yitzhak, pasha and seed, exercises the final possession of the lands that were promised to Abraham (comment on Breishit 26.2)

Why does the Torah emphasize the amount of harvest that Yitzhak harvested? Midrash Breishit Rabbah 64:6 explains on behalf of Rabbi Hilbo that in that period the soil was hard, and that year was hard. And if the conditions were better, he would have collected even more. And although it is known that blessings are not on what is counted and measured, this does not apply to this case, since this was done in order to know how much to separate for maaser (tithe). The Midrash continues the same idea in another place (Breishit Rabbah 12:11), that the Creator warned the Jewish people that if they tithe from their harvest, He would bless them with wealth. The same opinion was held by Rashi in his commentary on the above verse.

Yitzhak continues what Abraham did, who separated the “Trumah Gdola”, and later Yaakov, will separate the “Maaser Rishon”. This opinion is given by Midrash Tanchuma, on the weekly chapter of Ree, section 12.

RamBaM in the “Laws on Kings” at the beginning of the 9th section writes about the history of the development of the commandments, starting from Adam, who was obliged to observe 6 of the currently existing 7 Bnei Noah commandments. When RambaM comes to the period of the forefathers, he also mentions that Yitzhak received the commandment to separate the tithe. Why Yitzhak?

A distinctive feature of Yitzhak's service to the Creator was the digging of wells. He restored the wells dug by Abraham and dug new ones. What is special about the well? In the Tanakh we find three types of water sources: a pit, a well, and a spring. What is the peculiarity of each of them? A man digs a hole himself and fills it with water. The source was created by the Creator along with the rest of nature. When a well is dug, it is known that there is water in the depths of the earth, but in order to get it, this place must be cleared of earth and stones, and then the water will rise out and revive the earth. That is, there is Divine providence and the efforts that a person must make in order for it to be realized.

This was Yitzhak's spiritual work. Not only to spread knowledge about the unity of the Creator and reveal its manifestations in the world, but to reveal the manifestation of holiness where they are not even immediately visible. This was also one of the reasons why Yitzhak loved Esav, who had a very high potential, which could be revealed only after the arrival of Mashiach.

The war for the wells between the shepherds of Yitzhak and the shepherds of the Philistines is not just a description of some everyday sketches of that time. Our sages established a rule (Breishit Rabbah 40.6) that everything that happened to our forefathers happened or will happen to their descendants. This idea was described in sufficient detail by Ramban in his comments on Breishit 12.6; 12.10 and 26.1. Hasidism takes this even further and believes that the deeds of the forefathers give strength to their descendants to behave like them. The three wells mentioned by the Torah (Breishit 26, 16-22) symbolize the three Temples and the attitude of the peoples of the world towards the Jewish people. The first well symbolizes the First Temple, when the nations of the world robbed us and destroyed it. The second well is the Second Temple, when the peoples of the world destroyed it because of their hatred towards us, and continue to hate us to this day. The third well is the Third Temple, during which the relationship of the Jewish people with other peoples will be established as the will of the Creator was originally.

Why, after all, Yitzhak receives the commandment specifically about the separation of tithing? This commandment is not simple from a philosophical point of view. We know that the Creator owns the whole world and all the property of man. Therefore, in those times when the Temple exists, a person must first set aside a tithe for the Levite, and by this he shows that his property is actually in the possession of the Creator, and only then can he use the rest.

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Likutei Sikhot (part 5, p. 68), the peculiarity of the commandment to separate tithes is that, unlike other offerings to kohanim, when it was initially established that some part must be given to the Creator, and thus, it as if it originally belonged to Him, then until the fulfillment of the commandment to separate the tithe, the entire crop belongs to the person, since it is not established which part of it will be tithe. Therefore, when they separate the tithe, they show by this that even the property that is seen as allegedly completely belonging to a person also belongs to the Creator.

Therefore, the commandment of tithing is similar to the spiritual work of our forefather Yitzhak - to reveal inner holiness in those things in which it is not visible at first glance.

Our forefathers teach us that true righteousness is not isolation from real life, not running away from everything that is not ideal in it, but the desire to correct it. Rabbi Yechiel Mikhel from Zlochiv said: “In every generation there are great righteous people who impede the process of geula, only because they cannot tear themselves away from the Torah and its maximum fulfillment. Each of them constantly thinks from what high source his soul comes, and how after he finishes doing everything he has to do in this world, it will return to the Higher worlds and will enjoy the light of Higher wisdom. Therefore, they are not interested in the real world, and they do not see any value in it - sunrises, sunsets and misfortunes that occur on earth (M. Buber, "Or Ganuz", p. 136). The Rabbi of Kotzk called such “righteous” (including Noach) “the righteous in a fur coat,” that is, those who, when it is cold, dress warmly instead of lighting the stove and warming others at the same time.

God grant that, with the help of the Creator, we would be rewarded at least to a small degree with the manifestation of such self-sacrifice that our forefather Yitzhak possessed, and just as he was rewarded with the commandment to populate and develop the Land of Israel (within the boundaries promised to the forefathers) and reveal the sparks of holiness in all manifestations of our lives.