From the Rabbi’s Study…Shabbat November 13, 2020/26 Cheshvan 5781
Torah: Chaye Sarah (Genesis 23:1 -25:18) Haftarah:(I Kings 1:1-31)
Veterans Day was celebrated on November 11th. To All our Veterans, Thank You for your service and protecting our Nation and people.
This Shabbat the Torah parsha is Chaye Sarah, the life of Sarah, however it is the story of her death and burial of Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah. The chapter starts with; “And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.” The commentaries of the literal Hebrew translation is as follows; ‘a hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years’; and since the word ‘year’ is inserted after every figure, the Rabbis comment: ‘She was as handsome at one hundred as at the age of twenty; and sinless at twenty as seven.’ (This, according to Luzzatto and Berliner, was the original form of the saying.) It is efficizes that someone’s life and a life truly lived is important. This was the first time we read about how to show respect to our deceased and how to bury them. It is called, “Met mitzvah” the religious obligation to bury one’s dead. Abraham’s concern and prompt and reverent care of his beloved wife, Sarah was important. So concerned was Abraham that he bought a burial place for Sarah. He did not want a free piece of land, but he insisted on paying the full price.
A short summary of the Torah portion continues with Abraham sending his servant Eliezer in search of a wife for Isaac. Eliezer prays to G-d for assistance in his search. Eliezer finds Rebekah, whom Isaac chooses to be his wife. Death of Abraham, who is buried next to Sarah in Cave of Machpelah and there is a list of descendants of Ishmael.
The actions of these events enlights us to many concepts and values. One is the love for one’s people and marrying in the faith. Abraham was concerned that Isaac needed a wife and he had Eliezer choose a woman from our people. While Eliezer was searching, Isaac went into the field to meditate (Genesis 24:63). Our rabbis tell us that Isaac was not merely meditating, but was praying, for he had instituted the tradition of the Mincha afternoon prayer service (Talmud Berachot 25a). The woman Eliezer chose was Rebekah. Eliezer was wise in choosing her because of her kindness and compassion toward his camels and a stranger by giving water. Rebekah then asked him to come to her home to meet her family and for food. The Torah has a mitzvah of hospitality and many laws pertaining to kindness to animals are important religious obligations in Judaism. So, if the Torah has many laws about kindness toward animals, one can imagine how much more people should show kindness to one another.
Today, we mourn the passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, one of the greatest leaders of our time. Rabbi Sacks was a prominent and influential rabbi of our time. The ultimate communicator, original thinker and Jewish theologian. These are just two of his quotes, which I believe are important for our times now…
“ A world without values quickly becomes a world without value.”
“ The test of faith is whether I can make space for difference. Can I recognize G-d’s image in someone who is not my image, whose language, faith, ideal, are different from mine? If I cannot, then I have made G-d in my images instead of allowing him to remake me in His.” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l
May his memory continue to be a blessing.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder