In this week’s parshah we read of Isaac digging water-wells that had been stopped up after his father Abraham had originally drilled them. As he dug them, herdsmen of Gerar fought over ownership of the wells and their water. Only when Isaac moved along to Rehoboth did he re-open a well that was able to stay open.
Hold that thought.
A number of years ago I was on a trip in Canada. My watch broke, so I went out and bought a new one. It keeps analog time, and also the day and date. To adjust the time you pull the stem all the way out. To adjust the day and date you pull it and spin it one way or the other. Lately the day/date function has stopped working, so I have to spin the time forward to adjust the day/date when a month has less than 30 days. (All together now… “30 days hath September, April, June and yada yada yada”).
As I’ve gotten older, my wedding ring has become increasingly difficult to slide on and off over the knuckle of my finger. Even with a recent loss of weight (yeah Israel Ride) it hasn’t gotten easier. So I went to the jewelry store to have it enlarged. The owner asked me if I had any gold at home, which would lower the cost. I rummaged through some drawers and found two watches. One was the watch that broke in the previous paragraph, and one was my father’s watch (aha, there is some sort of connection to the parshah here) which I took possession of as a memento after he died. Turned out these two gold watches are just gold-plate, but no matter.
Anyway, I had a new battery put in Dad’s (alav haShalom) watch, and as I took it back from the jeweler, I discovered that it had the same design as the watch I had purchased up in Canada. I had bought my father’s watch!
Isaac generally is considered to be the ‘weak link’ between patriarch Abraham and patriarch Jacob. His father almost killed him, his “uncle” found him his wife, his favorite son played a ground-shaking trick on him. Frankly, he comes across as a bit of a wuss, and as Frank Sinatra said on his 50th birthday concert (with the incredible Count Basie band) “I cleaned that one up for you!”
Maybe Isaac was really really content to follow in his father’s footsteps, both literally and figuratively. His life. His choice. Isaac’s father founded a family that continues to this day. My Dad did likewise. Isaac’s father is a great historical figure; three great religions claim him as their original inventor. My Dad was no historical figure, he was just a man with a quiet dignity about him. Like so many men of his generation, he went right over the day after Pearl Harbor and signed up. Fortunately, he made it home in one piece. Isaac got chased out of Gerar by Abimelech king of the Philistines, because he had become too rich. My Dad never got rich, but he did well enough that his three children eventually received a financial inheritance in addition to everything we learned from him. And he was part of the generation that fought against the worst person and the biggest enemy – in the history of the world – that the Jewish people ever faced. I’m not saying that person’s name (may it be wiped from the history books and forgotten). My Dad’s generation kicked his evil, sorry ass (and I’m not cleaning that one up).
This one’s for you, Dad, and I’ll see you again when I travel the path you have already taken.