Rabbi Lewis Eron for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
His Father's Wells
A few weeks ago, our attention was turned once again to the space program. John Glenn, a true American hero, returned to space, and we celebrated the spirit of innovation, courage, and exploration that has always marked our country's best efforts. As we look at the exploration of space, whether through the mirror of current media coverage or through the prism of books and movies, we are awed by the many highly intelligent, creative and insightful people whose joint efforts push us deeper into the still largely unexplored region of space.
Some men and women of genius are innovators, and point us in new directions, down uncharted paths. Other men and women of genius are developers. They have the gift of recognizing the implications of a new idea or a revolutionary concept and the ability to find practical applications for it that change our world. Still others are adventurers. They are blessed with a sense of exploration and enterprise, and use the insights of the innovators and the wisdom of the developers to explore previously unknown regions.
Our culture often seems to honor the genius of innovators and adventurers more than that of developers. Yet, we know how important developers are to changes in all aspects of our lives, including science and technology, economics and politics, and arts, philosophy and religion. These people have the gift of seeing the utility in a scientific discovery, the power in a new concept, the potential of a new theory that is beyond the sight of the innovator. They have the talent for organization, structure, and planning that provide the foundation for successful adventure and exploration. Without their insight, courage and wisdom, their ability to "pick up the ball and run with it", the best efforts of the innovators would be for naught, and the adventurers would be left without tools. The developers are the people who build religious movements, who restructure social and political life, who change the way we see art, hear music and read books. In the imagery from this week's Torah portion, Toledot which tells the story of Isaac's developers, while drawing water from other's wells, learn to dig their own and to draw on their own sources of strength and wisdom.
The genius of each of our three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, fits the pattern of innovator, developer and adventurer respectively. Each patriarch plays a decisive role in the unfolding of our people's most ancient experience. Each one is important. Each one should be honored. Yet, of our three patriarchs, Isaac always seems to live in the shadows of his father, Abraham, and his son, Jacob.