Sarah and Jacob - Parashat Lekh Lekha final
Abram and Sarai follow God's call to journey to Canaan, where the covenant between God and Abraham is affirmed.
Abram, renamed Abraham, has a son with Hagar, Sarai's maid, and God promises that Sarai, renamed Sarah, will
bear a son as well.
God said to Abram, “Go forth
from your homeland to the land that I shall show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you
and make your name great. I wish to bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families
of the earth shall be blessed through you.”
God said to Abram, “You will have sons, but he who comes forth from your own inner parts shall be
your heir.” He then led Abram outside, saying, "Look, please, toward the heavens and count the stars. So shall your
God said, “I wish to set My covenant between Me and you. You shall become a father of the multitude of the nations.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful. Kings shall come forth from your nation. This covenant will be for you and your
descendants after you for all generations as an everlasting covenant.
But God said, “Not so,
Sarah shall bear a son whom you shall name Isaac. With him will I uphold My covenant.
When God went away from
Abraham, that very same day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the male members of his household and servants.
Abraham circumcised the flesh of their foreskins and his own.
The elders of the tribe
need to set out how the people will be organised and what their responsibilities are as individuals within the plan
of God setting out his plan to make a great nation of
Abraham’s descendants and Jacob accepting the deal. The Parsha sets the scene for the establishment of the Jewish
people through divine intervention. With almost total lack of understanding of the physical properties of the world
and no real understanding of why things happen it was a useful suggestion that God was going to look after the
Jewish people. This covenant or arrangement between Abraham and God is fundamental to the establishment of
Judaism. God was shown to be all powerful but effectively those
who interpreted the power had the power. The circumcision rite was established as the covenant
between Jews and God and was established at the birth of
the son and so set up the notion of the Chosen People.
important word is the covenant – in return for the State taking care and responsibility of its
citizens and the exchange of individual actions
for a state response. Although crime does not
appear in the parsha, the notion that society is protected by God easily morphs into the notion that ‘The
people are protected by the State’. The covenant between God and the people is a great advance on the belief
that there is a covenant between those praying to an idol and a stone idol giving a favorable response. It is
too easy to say that you have prayed to the wrong idol. It is often said that the great gift of the Jews was the
idea that there was one God – only one. It was the basic idea of Jews, Christians and
assumes that an adult has to assume responsibility for his/her actions. Good and Evil are both options but we
are advised to choose the Good, and face the consequences if we do not. There is no cop-out by ascribing
everything to the will of Moslem Allah, or by asking forgiveness at a Christian
History 3 The
The Greek Empire covered an enormous area in the Middle East from Greece through
Turkey to Egypt. The Eastern Greek Empire after Alexander the Great was controlled by Seleucid Greeks. The
Seleucid Greeks from Syria began to dominate the Middle East founding Polis or cities everywhere. The Jewish
people could not resist these influences. During Hellenization Greek ideas replaced many Jewish customs. The Greek leader Antiochus
Epiphanes, by raising taxes provoked Judas the Maccabee to resist. The Jewish revolt lasted from 166-164BCE and drove the Seleucids from
Jerusalem. The celebration of Chanukah derives from this revolt. Those reform minded Jews who had supported
the Greek ideas were crushed. The traditional Jews triumphed and the Torah and its study was
institutionalised. Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BCE) expanded the Jewish frontiers but provoked a civil war in
which 50,000 Jews died. Alexander’s widow was Salome. Shortly after she died in 67BC, Judaea became a Roman
client state under Herod who was a Jew. He had ideas about
what was good for the Jewish people even if this meant destroying religious institutions which held up
progress. Herod went to Rome and returned as head of a large Roman army. He separated religion and state
which was not universally popular. This brought prosperity to the Jewish people in Palestine. A third of the
estimated eight million Jews were in Palestine. Herod’s good connections with Rome protected the Jews in the
Diaspora. Herod built the city of Caesarea with an enormous statue of Caesar. He built an enormous Temple in
Jerusalem and generally made the Jewish kingdom pre-eminent in the Roman Empire. He was extremely progressive
and combined successful economic and social policies with unspeakable cruelty. He died in
Israel was surrounded by much larger
nations which conquered Israel and many other little states. Israel had tried to be independent but never could
compete with the large armies of the invaders. In the short period that Herod had co-operated with the Romans, Israel had become relatively
prosperous with growing numbers of Jews both in Israel and in the Diaspora. Everything was about to come to a
horrible end as some of the Jewish leaders over-reached themselves and brought down the wrath of the Romans.
The period from 165 BCE to 135 CE was dominated by the struggle of the Jewish people to restore
the kingdom of Judah in the face of attempts, first by Antiochus Epiphanes, then by the Roman Caesars, to ban
Judaism altogether. Judah the Maccabee and the Hasmoneans did in fact succeed in driving out the Seleucids and
establishing a Jewish kingdom which, under the rule of Alexander Jannaeus, controlled a large part of the
territory which had constituted the kingdom of Judah in the time of David and Solomon. Their success in turn
inspired a number of Messianic movements directed against Roman rule, culminating in the acclamation of Simon
bar Kochba as the "king Messiah" by Rabbi Akiva around 132 CE. The struggle for the restoration of the
kingdom of Judah, accompanied by the growth of a large Jewish Diaspora in the Greek and Roman world, led to
the rise of Judaism as a popular movement throughout the eastern Mediterranean region. The Roman response was
a policy of mass murder, resulting in the death of at least 2 million Jews in the land of Israel and another
1 million in the Diaspora. One consequence of this series of events was the emergence of a new mystery
religion in the Greco-Roman world centered around the worship and pseudo-cannibal consumption of the alleged
Messiah of the Jews. Another consequence was the decline and fall of the priestly Judaism that had been
centered around the Temple and its replacement by a rabbinical Judaism based on the cult of the Torah.
Rabbinical Judaism preserved the concept of the Messiah, but in a supernatural form centered around a belief
in the "end of days", resurrection of the dead and establishment of the "kingdom of God" on
STORY - Up to the Messianic era 165 BCE to 135
Shlomo was very proud of the Israel
“Dad. How many generations of Shlomo Israels do you
think there are?”
“Shlomo. I don’t know. Many, many, many – maybe
sixty or seventy.”
“Dad – we are very lucky. I know a lot of your
family lost their lives fighting against Greeks and Romans recently. How did that happen?”
“Well Shlomo, the Greeks came and tried to make us
behave just like they did. A lot of our friends and family thought they had good ideas and they changed their
ways from traditional Jewish to Greek customs.”
“When the Greeks raised taxes there was a revolt by
Judas Maccabeus and we lost a lot of people – your cousins and their families
“Then what happened?
“The Romans came and installed Herod who was a Jew
as their commander. Times were good but there were a lot of
people who thought they could restore the Kingdom of Judea. They couldn’t match it with the force of the
Romans. We lost. ”
“That’s what I said. Our little family is lucky to
“ You can’t imagine how lucky. The Roman response
was a policy of mass murder, resulting in the death of at least 2 million Jews in the land of Israel and
another 1 million in the Diaspora. One consequence of this series of events was the emergence of a new
mystery religion in the Greco-Roman world centered around the worship and pseudo-cannibal consumption of the
alleged Messiah of the Jews.”
“You mean Jesus?”
“None other – he was born a Jew but he wasn’t the
“Do you mean he was Jewish and he didn’t start
“His disciples were also Jewish but they created a
lot of myths about him and created Christianity.”
“Oh.This is going to be an interesting
The brilliant British economist David Ricardo, born
into a Sephardic Jewish family, was one the most important figures in the development of economic theory. He
articulated and rigorously formulated the "Classical" system
of political economy. The legacy of Ricardo dominated economic thinking throughout the 19th
Century. Egged on by his good friend James Mill, Ricardo
got himself elected into the British parliament in 1819 as an independent representing a borough in Ireland.
He wrote a pair of tracts (1810, 1811) outlining what has since become known as the "classical approach"
to the theory of money.
In 1815, Ricardo published his
groundbreaking Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. There he introduced the differential theory of rent and the "law of
diminishing returns" to land cultivation. On foreign trade, Ricardo set forth his famous theory
of comparative advantage. Using his famous example of two nations (Portugal and England)
and two commodities (wine and cloth), Ricardo argued that trade would be beneficial even if Portugal held an
absolute cost advantage over England in both commodities. With his 1817 treatise, Ricardo took
economics to an unprecedented degree of theoretical sophistication. He formalized the Classical system more clearly and consistently
than anyone before had done.
Ernestine Susmond was born in
1810 a rabbi's daughter in Poland. She studied Hebrew scriptures and Talmud with her father but soon got into
trouble for questioning the texts. Her father arranged a marriage for her at 16 but she rejected the suitor and
went to Berlin.
Her goal for herself and for society was
intellectual freedom, freedom from the constraints of religious creeds and dogma, while disavowing Judaism as
irrational, The following year Ernestine Susmond traveled around Europe in search of colleagues who cared as
much as she did about justice and equality. then arrived in England in 1830. There she became a follower of
Robert Owen, a wealthy industrialist turned social reformer who preached a form of community-based socialism.
Now married, Ernestine Rose arrived in New York in May of 1836 and was one of the first women to speak
publicly in America on women's rights, and the first to petition for women' s rights. For the next thirty
years, Ernestine Rose was an active campaigner on the lecture circuit . She was hailed as "The Queen of the
Platform," for being the best female orator of mid-nineteenth century America. She was a freethinker and
atheist in movements that often turned to the Bible for authority.
She and her husband left America in 1869 for
retirement in England. In England, the Roses continued their commitment to the women's movement and the
freethinker movement, but on a less active scale. She died in Brighton, England on August 4, 1892 and was
buried next to her beloved William at Highgate Cemetery in London.
A learned bastard stands higher than an ignorant high priest
What good is beauty without luck
Beauty fades but a good name endures
A beggar does more for an alms giver than an alms giver does for a
One coin in a bottle rattles; the bottle filled with coins makes no