Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
What was the most quintessentially American phenomenon we encountered during our stay in the United States last year? Without a doubt, it was Amazon Prime. This is a service of Amazon, the Internet technology company that sells anything and everything. As a member of Amazon Prime, you receive your order at your front door within 24 hours. This sounds like a technical innovation but it’s much more than that. After a while, you get used to this American state of mind: if you want something, you get it right away. Order it now and tomorrow it’s in your hands. In Israel, it’s not like we still draw water from a well, but there is still a difference. In America, consumer culture carries a message: Everything is available right now, so who needs restraint, planning or patience.
On the other hand, what stands out most in the Book of Genesis? Patience, expectation, a brilliant but far off future. Avraham Avinu was not privileged to see God’s promises come true in his lifetime. Nor did Yitzchak experience instant gratification or effortless reward. Our patriarchs and matriarchs worked hard for every valuable thing: to find their better half, to become pregnant, to properly educate their children.
I discovered an incredible detail in this week’s Torah portion: Yitzchak married at the age of 40 and became a father at the age of 60. When the Torah describes Yitzchak and Rivka standing and praying in opposite corners of the same room, it appears that this is a one-time prayer. Yet, it turns out that this prayer lasted for 20 consecutive years. Not everything in life is available on Amazon Prime. For the important things in life, an investment of time and effort is necessary.