Parshas Vayera
Genesis 18:1 - 22:24

This Land Is Mine ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace.

In Parshas Vayera we have no fewer than thirty major themes:
- Avraham receives his bris mila
- Avraham receives a visit from Hashem
- Avraham receives a visit from three malachim {angels}
- The malachim inform Avraham that his wife Sarah will have a son at this time next year
- Avraham will become a great and mighty nation
- Avraham is informed that the wicked cities Sodom and Amorah will be destroyed
- Avraham pleads with Hashem attempting to negotiate for the safety of the righteous in Sodom
- Many of the residents of Sodom are bisexual
- Avraham’s nephew Lot, his wife and two daughters escape from Sodom before its destruction by the malachim
- Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt
- Lot’s surviving daughters believe the entire world has been destroyed and as a result think they should repopulate the world through their father
- Avraham journeys to the land of Avimelech, King of Gerar, where his wife Sarah is taken into his harem
- The people of Gerar are afflicted by Hashem and cannot bear children because Avimelech has Avraham’s wife Sarah in his harem
- Avimelech blesses Avraham with cattle, servants and wealth because of Sarah whom he thinks is Avraham’s sister
- After Sarah is returned, Avraham blesses Avimelech and his people begin bearing children again
- Sarah gives birth to a son
- Avraham and Sarah’s son is called Yitzchok
- Yitzchok is weaned
- Hagar the Egyptian and her son Yishmael create a conflict for Sarah’s son Yitzchok
- Sarah demands that Hagar and Yishmael be immediately removed from Avraham’s camp
- Avraham is reluctant to toss them out into the wilderness but does so at Sarah’s demand
- Yishmael and his mother run out of water and as a result may be near death when a malach {angel} appears to them; the malach provides them with a well of water
- Avimelech and his general, Pischol, make an agreement with Avraham regarding the land both live in. Avraham seals their agreement by giving Avimelech cattle and sheep
- After the agreement Avraham’s servants dig three wells of which two are claimed by the servants of Avimelech
- After the first two wells were seized by the servants of Avimelech Avraham and Avimelech make an agreement regarding the ownership of the third well which Avraham calls Beer Sheva
- Avraham makes this claim to Beer Sheva by giving Avimelech seven ewes
- Hashem instructs Avraham to sacrifice his only son Yitzchok at a certain place three days away
- When Avraham attempts to sacrifice Yitzchok a ram is provided in his place by Hashem
- Yitzchok’s life is spared
- On Avraham and Yitzchok’s journey home they are informed of Rivkah’s birth to close relatives

This Land Is Mine

For a number of weeks now we have seen an incredible disturbance in Israel and the Middle East. In fact, even though this article is current I have a feeling that it could be written any time and any year and still be current. That is very unfortunate!! Here the Torah provides proof that's Avraham and Avimelech made an agreement for land, for water wells and for dwelling places for both peoples. This agreement is thousands and thousands of years old yet who recognizes this agreement? Does America recognize this agreement? Do Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia or any other nation of the world recognize this agreement? Do Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or any other nation of the Middle East recognize this agreement?

In America we state “In G-d We Trust.” We print these words on our currency and our coinage and have for many, many years. Even though America is supposed to be a land where we recognize freedom of religion, America considers herself and refers to herself as a Christian nation with Christian morals and Christian values. Even though this is generally true there are many other beliefs and religions living in America and PRE - AMERICA...

Evidently we found and still find it perfectly acceptable to seize land from people living in America before us and move them to reservations! Evidently we believe it is OK in this nation of power to do as we please with the residents living here before us! Unfortunately this same attitude exists not just in America but throughout the world.

As Americans we try to negotiate peace between the Palestinians and the Egyptians and Syrians and the Israelis and so forth, telling them that they must recognize Israel's claim to the land while at the same time we deny the Indians' claim to lands of America ... It is no wonder that peace cannot be reached or understood from such faulty positions.

Now, given the present situations in Israel, many might think that this article is a political spin in behalf of Israel when in fact it is important, pertinent and the present parshas for this week! This week
and next week's parshas reflect thousands of years of problems surrounding the ownership of Yisroel’s land. In this week's parsha we see that Avraham made an agreement for ownership of the land and the wells his servants dug with Avimelech, king of Gerar and his general Pichol. Next week we see another agreement between Avraham and the sons of Cheis and Ephron, son of Tzochar, for the burial land for his wife Sarah.

In both of these instances, Avraham was recognized by the people of the land as a resident and as an owner of land in Yisroel. So based upon a legal document that is thousands of years old {over 3,500 years old}, the Torah, Jews do have a claim to ownership of the land in Yisroel!! Then in addition to this is the Creator... G-d... as Creator and as Owner of this world, He gave the land of Yisroel to the Jewish nation after delivering them from harsh slavery in Mitzriam. This fact is recorded many times in the Torah! Hashem said, “..I have descended to free them {Yisroel, the descendants of Avraham} from the hand of the Mitzriam and to bring them up from that land {Mitzriam / Egypt} to a good, spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the territory of the Canaanites, the Chittites, the Emorites, the Perizites, the Chivites and the Yevusites...” Exodus 3:8

Now we read this and for some reason G-d's Word is not enough! Throughout the world we study the Bible and cannot comprehend its meaning!! Or is it something else? Is it our nature to ignore what Hashem has said? Do we look the other way because facing this Torah document is just much too difficult? Why is it that the nations of the world... the powerful nations of the world... the powerful nations of the world that occupy lands of other people... why is it that these nations tell Israel to make land for peace deals?

Holy reader, I wish that peace for Israel was as simple as making a few land for peace agreements but it is not! In this week's parsha almost immediately after Avimelech makes an agreement of land with Avraham his servants move against Avraham’s servants. The Torah records, “It was at this time, Avimelech and Pichol, his general, spoke to Avraham, saying, ‘G-d {as in G-d as Creator, Owner and Judge} is with you in all that you do. Now, swear to me here, by G-d, that you will not deal falsely with me, with my son, or my grandson. The kindness that I have done to you, do to me and to the land in which you lived for awhile.’ Avraham said, “I will swear.” Avraham then reprimanded Avimelech regarding the well of water that Avimelech’s servants had taken by force. Avimelech said, ‘I don't know who did this thing.’ ‘You also never told me, and I also heard nothing of it until today.’ Avraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Avimelech. The two of them made a covenant {an agreement}. Avraham set seven ewes apart by themselves. Avimelech said to Avraham, ‘What is the reason for these seven ewes that you set apart?’ He {Avraham} said, ‘Take these seven ewes from my hand so that it will be proof for me, that I dug this well.’ Therefore he called that place Beer Sheva, since the two had made an oath there. They made a covenant in Beer Sheva. Avimelech and Pichol, his general, then rose and returned to the land of the Philistines...” Genesis 21:22-32

Dear reader, at an earlier time Avimelech said to Avraham, “Behold my land is before you. Live wherever you see fit.” Genesis 20:15 Avimelech’s statement represents ownership. This is reinforced by Avimelech’s denial of any knowledge of wrongdoing... If the land was his to do with as he pleased then a denial would not have been necessary! But because the land belonged to Avraham it was necessary for King Avimelech to deny any knowledge of the improper seizure of Avraham’s well. We observe denials and claims of ignorance. What we don’t see is the material for peace for resolving the problem ...

We read nothing of Avimelech’s inquiry into the matter of Avraham’s claim... We read nothing of Avimelech questioning his general Pichol who was there with him regarding the incident... Avimelech’s only expressions are ignorance and denial!! Avimelech expresses no regret! Avimelech expresses no sorrow!! Avimelech expresses no intent to investigate the matter. He says nothing of arresting the violators. He says nothing of prosecuting the thieves. He does not assure Avraham that he will look into the matter. He does not say the land will be returned... In fact one must wonder, ‘Why was General Pichol accompanying King Avimelech? Was this the normal procedure or was this a thug type intimidation tactic towards Avraham ?

This type of conduct is NOT the basis for peace! This is not the basis for cooperation and equal and safe existence! The Torah exposes what is not the basis for peace!

Holy reader these types of problems: lies, denials, ignorance, absolution from prosecution of the guilty, freedom from restitution, amnesty for the guilty, etc... are the same problems that Yisroel faces today. These are the same problems Jews have faced for years... They are NOT the foundation stones for peace. So if we want a real peace we must insist on JUSTICE for all. Justice for the Jews... Justice for the non Jews... Justice for the nations and people seized by other peoples and nations...

The powerful nations of this world support truth from the position of a lie! They make demands from their positions of power and deceit! They tell Yisroel, ‘Give land for peace’ when they know there is no intention or hope for peace. Like King Avimelech they say, ‘Let’s write a peace treaty for me, for my son and for my grandson, for our benefit,’...while they steal our land, our water and our homes with violence, denials, ignorance and cries for us, the Jews, to be just... Why should we be surprised?

Dear reader, only Hashem can settle these types of matters. The powerful nations of the world cannot... There will be many pseudo peace proposals as there have been in the past. Our enemies are still our enemies... AND OUR G-D IS STILL OUR G-D!! Who is more powerful, our enemies or our G-d? Who should we fear more, our enemies or our G-d? Whose demands should we be listening to, the demands of the powerful nations of this world...? the United Nations...? the demands of our enemies...? or the demands of our G-d?

Holy reader, our father Yitzchok faced the exact problems as our father Avraham did. The problem has NOT CHANGED! The problem is still the same... The problem will remain the same. We cannot appease our enemies enough and we shouldn’t appease them at all! We cannot bow low enough to the nations of the world and we shouldn’t bow to them at all!

Yisroel is an independent nation established by G-d not the United Nations. We should be more concerned with appeasing our G-d and bowing only to Him! For thousands of years we have known the way of our enemy and the way of the nations. Now it is time for us Jews to examine the way of our G-d!!

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

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