TTT: Toldot 5772

November 22nd, 2011 by admin | Filed under TTT.

Torah Thoughts for Today
Shabbat Toldot 5772
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield, NJ


Sunday evening, 11/27, 7:45 PM & Monday morning, 11/28, 7 AM, Miriam Gershwin has a Yahrzeit


Friday, December 23rd, 8 PM

Saturday, December 24th, 9:30 AM




November 26, 2011 – 29 Heshvan 5772

Annual: Genesis 25:19-28:9 (Etz Hayim p. 146; Hertz p. 93)
Triennial Cycle: Genesis 26:23-27:27 (Etz Hayim p. 152; Hertz p. 96)
Haftarah: I Samuel 20:18-42 (Etz Hayim p. 1216, Hertz p. 948)

Prepared by Rabbi Joseph Prouser

“And Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his councilor and Phichol chief of his troops. Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you have been hostile to me and have driven me away from you?” And they said, “We now see plainly that the Lord has been with you, and we thought: Let there be a sworn treaty between our two parties, between you and us. Let us make a pact with you that you will not do us harm, just as we have not molested you but have always dealt kindly with you and sent you away in peace. From now on, be you blessed of the Lord!” (Genesis 26:26-29)


According to the Philistines, Isaac’s success stemmed from his ability to exploit their land’s fertility; because they were jealous of Isaac, they exiled him. Now, with the patriarch in Beersheba, an area lacking their land’s fertility, the Philistines concluded that Isaac’s initial prosperity was the result of the tzadik’s merit rather than any exploitation. They now acknowledged that Isaac truly was blessed by God. He was not someone who took advantage of them. “Had we only realized then what we know now,” the Philistines concluded, “we would never have driven you away.” (Chatam Sofer)

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” (Moshe Dayan)

“The blessings of peace are very capital, nothing finer – but one likes to be warned.” (Patrick O’Brian, Desolation Island)

“Peace is not made at the council table or by treaties, but in the hearts of men.” (Herbert Hoover)

“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.” (Charles de Gaulle)


Our parashah seems to reprise a similar incident involving a peace treaty between Abimelech and Abraham, where Abimelech again was attended by Phichol (see Genesis 21:22-32). It seems historically implausible that the same two Philistines were still national leaders fully a generation later. Either an important motif simply is being reframed or, as Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz concludes, somewhat less critically, “they must have been old men in the time of Isaac.” Should we read the theology of this interchange with less suspicion than its asserted timing? That is, do the Philistines truly perceive divine blessing in Isaac’s prosperity? Or are their motives more materialistic, more mercenary (perhaps in part explaining the presence of a military leader), somehow more Philistine?

Would Moshe Dayan apply his famous axiom to this text? Is Abimelech’s somewhat saccharine and solicitous rhetoric simply typical of peace treaties between former foes accustomed to mutual mistrust?

The Patrick O’Brian quote is spoken by a military officer, British Navy Captain Jack Aubrey, for whom peace represented an impediment to career advancement, fame, and fortune! Why might civilians today – both in Israel and elsewhere – experience some ambivalence about the prospect of peace with erstwhile enemies?

Did Isaac sincerely welcome the peace offer from Abimelech? Compare to Abraham’s reaction in Genesis 21. Is peace and alliance always a desirable goal, regardless of the moral shortcomings of our prospective treaty partners? What council might Hoover or De Gaulle have offered Isaac?

Your thoughts as always are welcome…


A. Sunday, November 27:

1. 9 AM:

a. NO Religious School

b. Morning Minyan

2. 10 AM – 5 PM: Jewish Fair & Expo Green Lane Y

3. 7:45 PM: evening minyan

B. Monday, November 21st , 7:30 PM: Springfield Interfaith Clergy Association Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Community Service – hosted by Temple Shaa`rey Shalom

C. Thursday, November 24th – MORNING MINYAN TIME = 9 AM

D. Thursday, December 1, 8 PM: Coffee & Clergy Corner – Springfield Barnes & Noble: Rabbi Mallach & Reverend David Knecht, Holy Cross Lutheran Church – will lead a topical discussion on issues that we all face – OPEN TO ALL

E. Friday, December 2nd, 6:30 PM: SHABBATis4U

a. Services led by Kitah Zayin & Vav


c. December birthday blessings

d. Yahrzeit list is read

e. Shabbat dinner to follow the services – an RSVP is needed – contact the office:

F. Saturday, December 3rd, 9:30 AM: Anniversary of the B`nai Mitzvah of Ari & Ben Scherzer


There have been inquiries about the next potential congregation Israel tour, such an event depends on several factors:

1. Currently exploring departure dates for the end of June, 2012

2. Having a nucleus of participants to make it viable – 20 adult minimum

3. Having a chairman to organize

If anyone is interested, please let me know and we can discuss the possibilities (NOTE: HAVE GOTTEN MANY RESPONSES, INTEREST IS CLEARLY GROWING…)

For updated information go to:

You can also visit my website at