Yitzchak: The Man Of Peace by Mark Srulowitz



The Torah tells us that the shepherds of Yitzchak twice dug wells and both times were challenged by the shepherds of Gerar who claimed that the water was their's (בראשית כ"ו:י"ט-כ"א). In both instances, Yitzchak had his shepherds leave those wells to those who challenged them. What comes across is Yitzchak's strong inclination to find a peaceful solution to disputes which could lead to serious fights or even war. A third well was dug not by Yitzchak's servants but by Yitzchak himself (שם פסוק כ"ב). This well, which was not fought over, can be seen as Hashem's reward to Yitzchak for resolving disputes peacefully and not always insisting on his own rights being upheld. Yitzchak obviously tried to avoid disputes and was prepared to yield rather than fight. When the animosity between Eisav and Yaakov threatened to get out of hand, therefore, Yitzchak and Rivkah sent Yaakov away to Charan to get away from Eisav's anger.

When we conclude the Shemoneh Esrei, we take three steps back and say "עשה שלום במרומיו הוא יעשה שלום עלינו ועל כל ישראל", "May He who makes peace above make peace for us and all of Israel." We step back primarily to show reverence for Hashem. One may also add, however, that since our concluding prayers are for peace, we are, perhaps, also taught that for the sake of peace, it is sometimes necessary to take a few steps back. Those who stand their ground and never bend or compromise will never be able to avoid confrontations.

The achievement of peace, particularly in social and political issues, requires that at times (but not necessarily all the time), we meet our opponents half way and take a few steps back from our fixed positions. The actions of Yitzchak thus have important ramifications for all of us to consider.



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