Geir V’Toshav

פרשת חיי שרה
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Written by:
Rabbi Yehuda Chanales
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גוַיָּ֨קָם֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י מֵת֑וֹ וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֶל־בְּנֵי־חֵ֖ת לֵאמֹֽר:
דגֵּֽר־וְתוֹשָׁ֥ב אָֽנֹכִ֖י עִמָּכֶ֑ם תְּנ֨וּ לִ֤י אֲחֻזַּת־קֶ֨בֶר֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם וְאֶקְבְּרָ֥ה מֵתִ֖י מִלְּפָנָֽי:

A Stranger and a Resident- Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Reflections of the Rav, 169.

Abraham's definition of his dual status, we believe, describes with profound accuracy the historical position of the Jew who resides in a predominantly non-Jewish society. He was a resident, like other inhabitants of Canaan, sharing with them a concern for the welfare of society, digging wells, and contributing to the progress of the country in loyalty to its government and institutions. Here, Abraham was clearly a fellow citizen, a patriot among compatriots, joining others in advancing the common welfare. 

However, there was another aspect, the spiritual, in which Abraham regarded himself as a stranger. His identification and solidarity with his fellow citizens in the secular realm did not imply his readiness to relinquish any aspects of his religious uniqueness. His was a different faith and he was governed by perceptions, truths, and observances which set him apart from the larger faith community. In this regard, Abraham and his descendants would always remain "strangers."

  1. In what ways does the Rav say Avraham felt like a “תושב”, a resident, amongst בני חת? In what ways did he feel like a “גר”, a stranger?
  2. When do you feel more like a “תושב” in the broader society around us? When do you feel more like a “גר”?
  3. When do you feel like a “תושב” in our narrower Jewish/school community? When do you feel more like a “גר”?

4. Would you like to feel differently? In what way/s?
How might the tension help you grow?

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