Last week it was the yahrzeit of our beloved friend and member of TBS Toni Klar, a remarkable woman. She was holocaust survivor and during the last years of her life she battled cancer. She used to come every Shabbat to shul and during our brunches we had many beautiful conversations about life. During one of those discussions, as she was contemplating her death, she shared with me her ethical will. She did not call it that, but that is what it was, she was bequeathing to me and her family of friends, not material possessions but rather the lessons she had learned through her life. There were a number of points but essentially it could be reduced to this; live every day to the fullest, do not hold onto grudges and jealousy, be grateful for what we have and find the beauty in the ordinary, everyday moments of life. What incredibly wise and important words.
This week in our parashah, we continue the story of Isaac. Isaac is a figure in the Torah about whom we know little and when we hear about him often it is in quite derogatory terms. He is seen as weak, traumatized by the events of a few weeks ago when he was taken to a mountain to be sacrificed by his father. But I think Isaac was perhaps the strongest and most wise of all the patriarchs, he recognized what was truly important and he lived his life by those values. Unlike his father he was not a visionary, he did not build a nation, forge a new destiny. Instead he remained in one area of land and whenever he was confronted or placed in a position of conflict, he did not fight, instead he walked away. He knew that he could find what he was looking for elsewhere and that it was not worth the battle and losses that would ensue. Isaac was able to be grateful for what he had, content to live his life surrounded by his wife and sons. We read about Isaac and Rebecca that they loved one another. They spent time together, forging their relationship, strengthening what they had. They nurtured their sons, enjoyed the blessings that they brought to their lives. Isaac knew that material possessions and wealth were not what would bring him happiness; rather it was the people around him and appreciating the good in his life that brought him joy and contentment. When Isaac went to re-dig his father’s wells and was confronted with adversaries, threatening him, he did not stand and fight, instead he walked away, cognizant of the fact that he could find what he was looking for elsewhere, there would be other wells, the material was not what was important.
This Shabbat I encourage us all to honor Isaac and my friend by trying to live as they did; seeing the beauty in the everyday, living each moment to the fullest and being content with what we have.