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    Three times backwards – Tol’dot

    At the end of the Amidah we take three steps backwards.

    With the action come the words Oseh shalom bim’romav, “He Who makes peace in His high places, may He make peace for us…”

    The person who wants peace must be willing to step back a little or else nothing will ever happen.

    This thought is linked by a Chassidic teacher with a series of incidents in today’s sidra.

    Wherever Abraham went, he looked for water, as does anyone who moves to a new location and thinks of settling there. He therefore dug wells in the valley of G’rar, but as soon as he had turned his back the local inhabitants filled in the wells.

    Isaac met the same fate. Returning to G’rar, he dug his father’s old wells a second time, but once more the local people stopped them up.

    Isaac decided not to fight; if he were to find a home in that region, he would need to live at peace with his neighbours.

    He went on to dig a third well which he called R’chovot, “Spaciousness”, implying that the land was wide enough for everybody, but once again, for the sake of peace, he had to move on.

    He finally settled at B’er Sheva, where at last a peace agreement was entered into with the local people.

    Who had been right all along?

    That is not the question. The question is, “After three episodes of enmity, how was peace arrived at in the end?”

    The answer is, “By being prepared to take three steps backwards.”

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