Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Parshat Chayei Sarah

The Legacy of Terach

After Sarah's death, Avraham sent his servant to "go to my father's house and to my family, and take a wife for my son" (Bereshit 24:38). The servant found Rivka and she followed him to Canaan to marry Yitschak.

Yitschak was not the only one to marry within Terach's, Avraham's father, family. Yitschak also told Yaakov to marry within the family: "Go to Padan Aram, to the house of Betuel, your mother's father, and take yourself from there a wife of the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother" (ibid 28:2).

So did Avraham. Sarah was Terach's daughter, as Avraham explained to Avimelech: "Also, indeed, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife" (ibid 28:12).

Indeed, the Torah seems to have genuine concern for all of Terach's descendents. Twice the Torah departs from its story line to tell us how Lot was saved from danger (see ibid Ch 14 & Ch.19). It also lists all twelve of Nahor's descendants (ibid 22:20-24), all twelve of Yishmael's descendents (ibid 25:12-18), all twelve of Esav's descendents (ibid Ch.36) as well as all twelve of Yaakov's descendents.

Furthermore, while the Torah records all the toldot (legacies) of all the above mentioned patriarchs as well as the toldot of Yitschak, there is no toldot of Avraham. Yet, there is a toldot of Terach: "These are the toldot of Terach: Terach begot Avram, Nachor, and Caran, and Charan begot Lot" (ibid 11:27).

Finally, in Yehoshua's final address to the Jewish people before his death, he begins with origins of the Jewish people. However he does not begin with Avraham. He begins with Terach: "Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the River, even Terach, the father of Avraham, and the father of Nachor; and they served other gods" (Yehoshua 24:2).

What was Terach's legacy? What was it about him that caused Avraham to follow a special path that made Avraham ensure that his children only marry from within his own family?

This is a hard question to answer as the Torah tells us very little, in fact only one sentence, about him: "Terach took Avram his son and Lot the son of Charan, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter in law, the wife of Abram his son, and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go to the land of Canaan, and they came as far as Charan and settled there" (Bereshit 11:31).

Avraham's mission to move to Canaan actually began with Terach. Terach may have been Avraham's inspiration and the one who set him on the path of his glorious journey.

For some reason, Terach was not able to follow through. Rabbi Menachem Liebtag suggest that like many Jewish parents, Terach taught his children the importance of Eretz Yisrael without himself being willing to make the final leap of moving there. Nevertheless, Avraham learned enough in order to complete the mission. It is reasonable to assume that Nachor, Avraham's only surviving brother, may also have had sympathies with living in Eretz Yisrael and possibly even taught Rivka about it.

Indeed, Avraham gives Rivka exactly the same test that God gave him. Could she leave her homeland, her birthplace, her father's house and go to a land she had never seen? Rivka did not hesitate. When Lavan and his mother asked her "Will you go with this man?" Rivka did not waver. She responded: "I will go" (ibid 24:54).

How was it that Rivka could be so decisive that she could move to Canaan without any hesitation, at a moments notice in the same manner that Avraham did? Perhaps she had inspiration from the same man that Avraham had. Perhaps the union of Yitschak and Rivka was part of Terach's legacy.

Last year's blog on Sedra Short on Parshat Chayei Sarah, entitled: "A Stranger and a Sojourner", appears at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you miss the answer. See

12:31 AM  

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