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   by Jacob Solomon

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G-d appeared to [Isaac] and said, "Do not go down to Egypt. Dwell in the land that I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and I will bless you…" (26:2-3).

"Schon ba-aretz"- dwell in this land, is immediately followed by "gur ba-aretz" - sojourn in this land.

The K'li Yakar suggests that "schon" and "gur" carry two different messages, indeed two different ideas.

The word "schon" is a spiritual concept. It links to the Shechina, the Divine Presence, which is intense in The Land. It is there and there only, where "asher omar eilecha" - I, G-d, may communicate with you. The K'li Yakar interprets those words to mean that within that territory and no other, G-d will converse with Isaac through nevua - prophecy. From the spiritual point of view, "schon" means that Isaac is to live as a permanent resident. For there, he will access G-d's spiritual closeness and nevua.

"Schon" therefore has a double meaning. The message to Isaac was: think of yourself as a permanent resident of the Land, and thus become eligible to experience the Shechina.

In contrast, "gur" is a physical concept. It means living in this area as a foreigner, as a ger, a stranger. Indeed generations would pass until Isaac's descendants would take physical possession of the Land.

In this vein, the K'li Yakar explains that Abraham used this distinction when opening negotiations with the Hittites. "Ger ve-toshav anochi i-machem" (23:4) means that Abraham declared himself a "ger", a foreigner in the physical sense as the Canaanites and other peoples were then in physical possession. But he insisted in the same phrase that he was a "toshav", a full resident, in that he had the spiritual privileges of the special closeness to G-d and receiving His Word that go together with being within the Land. Indeed, this relationship was to become permanent. When the Israelites were to conquer the Land, they had to remember "ki geirim ve-toshav atem imadi" - for with Me you are foreigners and residents (Lev. 25:23). Spiritually, they would be "toshavim" - residents, close to G-d. Physically however, they were "geirim" as they were not allowed to take possession of someone else's allotted portion of land in perpetuity. On the contrary, they had to proactively enable a person who had to sell his land out of poverty to repurchase it (ibid., 23-28). And in a broader sense, this message conveys that Am Yisrael living in Israel even to this day are guests in G-d's Reality. Their requirement is to live in harmony with the intense Shechina by working towards living according to Torah principles: "ki geirim ve-toshavim atem imadi" - for with Me you are foreigners physically, but residents spiritually.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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