Perashat Toldot – Peeping Tom
History is worthless if we do not learn from it. I hear many people speak about remembering the Holocaust. They say that if we never forget we will prevent it from happening again. I am sure that those who experienced the cruelty of the Spanish Inquisition said that they will never forget. The world has definitely forgotten the Inquisition. Nothing has been learned from it. When we say “Never forget” we are still not learning anything.
Learning from history means that we do something to react to problems in a way which will prevent something from recurring. Had they learnt from the Inquisition which was still active less than 200 years ago maybe we could have prevented the Holocaust.
In personal and business problems we try to learn from past mistakes. Just like country’s should learn from history so should any organization, especially Synagogues.
In our Perasha we see history repeat itself. Some of the players have learnt from history and improved themselves. The people of Gerar asked after Yitzchak’s wife Rivkah. Yitzchak answered “she is my sister since he feared saying ‘she is my wife’ lest the people of this place kill me over Rivkah because she is beautiful.”
Years earlier Avraham Avinu had told the same people that Sarah was his sister. At that time Avimelech kidnapped Sarah with the intention of marrying her. G-d subsequently came to him in a dream informing him of impending death since the woman which he had taken was married. Yitzchak suspected that neither Avimelech nor his people, the Pelishtim had become better people. He still believed that they would actually kill him because of his wife.
It seems that Avimelech had partially learnt from history since he did not immediately abduct Rivkah. Instead the Pelishtim watched Yitchak for many days to see if he was lying like his father did. One day while Avimelech was acting the part of a Peeping Tom he found Yitzchak playing marital games with Rivkah.
It is clear that the Pelishti people had not learnt anything from history since Avimelech needed to make a decree “Whoever touches this man and his wife will die.”