To Seize the Gates of Our Foes
To Seize the Gates of Our Foes

We read in this week’s Torah portion:

And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “O sister! May you grow Into thousands of myriads; May your offspring seize the gates of their foes” (Gen. 24:60).

Rebekah’s family blessed her, in  the biblical commentator Rashi words: “Your children will receive that blessing told to Abraham on Mount Moriah I will bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes (Gen. 22:17)…”

What a fine blessing---Laban blesses Rebekah with the blessing that God blessed Abraham on Mount Moriah!  One might think that a more complete blessing is not to have foes. Or if one has foes, that they repent and stop being foes. That they stop wishing and planning ill.

The phrasing seize the gates of their foes is so apt. The midrash says that the reference is to Canaanites.  The Bible states: Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, at the terebinth of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land (Gen. 12:6).

To seize the gates means to control and to rule over, not necessarily by violent means. The gates are where the government sits---the legislators, courts, police and rulers. This is an immense blessing from God because controlling and ruling over an enemy means living in peace with an enemy though they may wish us ill.  It means no violence.  It means no break-down in laws, however seemingly trifle.

It means that there are no places of “no-man’s land” where police don’t enter.  Police enter everywhere to police the law of the land.

This is the blessing we need more of today---seize the gates of Palestinian Arabs who are dwelling in our land.  Rudolf Giuliani, mayor of New York City is famous for his “broken windows” policy over two decades ago that dramatically reduced crime by simply maintaining law and order in run-down and dangerous areas. 

Writers today are wisely arguing that we need a  “broken windows” policy where Palestinian Arabs are rioting.  We must seize the gates of our foes.  We pray for the time when our people no longer has any foes, anywhere.