Torah Thoughts

The first time I went on March of the Living we visited the Old Warsaw Jewish Cemetery. The cemetery is testimony to the central position Poland occupied in European Jewry, as well as thee key role which Jews played in Polish cultures. And Jews were pivotal in the making of European culture, which was one of the most advanced in the world. And Jews still make an impact in advances in many areas as evidenced by the number of Jews who have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

The contribution by Jews to the wider world is not new. It emanates from our Patriarchs. Nor is the resentment of some beneficiaries. When Isaac dwelt amongst the Philistines, they envied him rather than praise him, to the point that Abimelech, the king of Gerar expelled him. According to Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, the Philistines resented Isaac’s successes. Even though they benefitted from his successes. And similarly, the Nazis resented the achievements of Jews with dire consequences despite their huge contribution to European countries.

The encounter between Isaac and Abimelech underlines the dangers of what the Perek teaches us: “Jealousy, lust and glory removes a man from the world” (4.28) From this we can learn that we should not be jealous of others who succeed and try to sour their achievements. Instead, let us rejoice and be happy at their successes