• Dvar for Chaye Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

    In the week’s Parsha, Chaye Sarah, there lies a hidden story behind the story, with three clues in our Parsha. The first clue is when Rivka first sees Yitzchak, we are told that he is coming from Be’er Lachai Ro-i (24:62), a fact not relevant to the story, and seemingly insignificant. The second clue is that after Sarah’s death and Avraham’s mourning of her passing, while we would expect Avraham to walk into the sunset of his life, we are told that Avraham then married a woman named Keturah and has six children, with no further mention of her or their children. The third clue is that when Avraham did pass away, he was buried next to Sarah by Yitzchak and Yishmael (25:8-10). Where did Yishmael come from, and where has he been until now?

    The Midrash pieces together the underlying story, and its meaning. The sages point out that Be’er Lachai Ro-i is the spot where Hagar prayed for her son Yishmael to be saved, and where Yitzchak went to search for Hagar after his mother died, hoping to find his father a wife. They also explain that Avraham did end up marrying Hagar, now named Keturah because “her acts produced frangrance”. Yishmael was present at Avraham’s burial, suggesting that this resulted in Avraham and Yishmael getting along. These facts provide context to their complex relationships, and more importantly, their ability to resolve their differences. May the story of our past provide hope for our future.

  • Dvar for Chaye Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

    Parshat Chaye Sarah records two major transactions, which begs us to wonder about their connection. The Parsha starts with Avraham insisting on paying for his plot of land in which to bury his wife. After much negotiating, Efron agrees to accept payment for the plot. The Parsha then goes into even greater detail describing the efforts of Avraham’s servant in finding a suitable wife for Yitzchak, his son. What’s the connection, other than then technically both being “transactions”?

    One possibility is that the dialog of the first transaction could be the requisite to the completion of the second. In other words, Avraham had to understand and negotiate a FAIR transaction where both sides benefit before he could find a wife for his son. This requirement says a lot about what it takes to find a suitable mate: Give. If you find yourself taking more than you’re giving in a given relationship, you need to insist on adjusting it. If any marriage is to work, the first ingredient is mutual respect, which breeds mutual giving. It is this fact that Avraham mastered before venturing to find his son a wife, and it’s this lesson that we should master before venturing to find our own mates or business partners.

  • Dvar for Chaye Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

    Parshat Chaye Sarah records two major transactions, which begs us to wonder about their connection. The Parsha starts with Avraham insisting on paying for his plot of land in which to bury his wife. After much negotiating, Efron agrees to accept payment for the plot. The Parsha then goes into even greater detail describing the efforts of Avraham’s servant in finding a suitable wife for Yitzchak, his son. What’s the connection, other than then technically both being “transactions”?

    One possibility is that the dialog of the first transaction could be the requisite to the completion of the second. In other words, Avraham had to understand and negotiate a FAIR transaction where both sides benefit before he could find a wife for his son. This requirement says a lot about what it takes to find a suitable mate: Give! If you find yourself taking more than you’re giving in a given relationship, you need to insist on adjusting it! If any marriage is to work, the first ingredient is mutual respect, which breeds mutual giving. It is this fact that Avraham mastered before venturing to find his son a wife, and it’s this lesson that we should master before venturing to find our own mates or business partners.

  • Daily Aliya for Chaye Sarah, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The descendants of Yishmael are now enumerated. Yishmael is identified fully as the son of Avraham and Hagar the Egyptian maiden of Sara who bore Yishmael to Avraham. This is quite parallel to the description of Yitzchak’s connection to Avraham as stated in the beginning of next week’s Parsha. This might further indicate Yishmael’s Teshuva in his later years.

    It is noteworthy that Yishmael fathered twelve sons, not like Yitzchak, but like Yaakov. Yishmael dies at the age of 100 and 30 and 7 years. The wording in the Torah purposely parallels that which was used to describe Sara’s lifespan, a further indication (perhaps) of the change for the better in Yishmael. Rashi says that the age of Yishmael is included to help us compute the chronology of Yaakov.

  • Daily Aliya for Chaye Sarah, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Avraham remarried and fathered several more children. Before his death, however, Avraham gave gifts to his other children and sent them all away, and bequeathed all the rest of his possessions to Isaac. Abraham died at the age of 175, and was buried by Isaac and Ishmael in the cave of Machpela beside his wife, Sarah.

    To honor the memory and legacy of his father, Ishmael allowed Isaac to take the lead, understanding that the future of the Jewish people would come from him. That deferral was important to Avraham, and the Gemara deduces is the reason why Avraham lived to a “good” old age. Making peace with family and friends doesn’t just affect the parties directly involved, but those around us/them. This aspect of forgiveness is often overlooked, especially while conflict exists. Sometimes only once we resolve conflict do we really see who we were hurting all along.

  • Daily Aliya for Chaye Sarah, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Rivka’s family celebrates the engagement together with Avraham’s servant. Next morning, the servant insisted on immediately returning to his master with the maiden in hand, and after Rivka agreed, the two set out for Canaan. Isaac married Rivka, loved her, and finally found consolation for the loss of his mother.

    The Medrash says that the day Rivka was brought to Yitzchak, he was busy bringing Hagar to Avraham so that he should marry her. Is it a coincidence that he was helping his father with something that he himself then received help with? Or is this a message that if you want help, you should be involved in helping others?

  • Daily Aliya for Chaye Sarah, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Rivka ran to tell her family about the man at the well, and her brother, Lavan, went out, greeted the servant, and invited him to spend the night. The servant told Rivka’s family the purpose of his mission to the city, and recounted the heavenly sign that designated Rivka as his master’s son’s wife. Rivka’s family agreed that the match was divinely ordained, and consented to the proposed match.

    It’s interesting to note that in this Aliya the Torah recaps Eliezer recapping the day’s events to Lavan and Betuel. We were told of Eliezer’s plans before they happened, the events themselves were written, and now we get a recap of a recap. Rashi mentions a teaching from Rabbi Acha, who said: “The ordinary conversation of the servants of the Patriarchs is more beloved before the Omnipresent than the Torah of their sons, for the section dealing with Eliezer is repeated in the Torah, whereas many fundamentals of the Torah were given only through allusions.” In fact, some of Eliezer’s words are used in the “Hineni” tefilla recited every Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur. There is so much for us to learn from the respect and commitment that Eliezer handled himself with.

  • Dvar for Chaye Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

    From Rabbi Avi Weiss:

    In this week’s Parsha, Chaye Sara, Avraham instructed Eliezer to find a wife for Yitzchak from Aram. Commentators ask why Abraham the Patriarch preferred a wife from his birthplace for his son Isaac rather than a woman from Canaan. After all, both were places of idolatry, and Abraham and Isaac were living in Canaan.

    Rabbeinu Nissim answers that in Canaan, people mistreated each other. In Abraham’s birthplace, they may have sinned against God, but there was respect and love between people. Avraham recognized that Derech Eretz (respect) is the prerequisite to any lasting relationship, both among people as well as between us and G-d.

  • Daily Aliya for Chaye Sarah, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Having acquired the land, Avraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpela. At this point, Avraham summoned his servant and charged him with the mission of finding a suitable wife for his son Isaac. Avraham had his servant swear that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the local Canaanite women. Instead, he asked him to travel to Aram, his native land, and find a wife for Isaac there.

    When the field of Ephron was acquired by Avraham, the Passuk says that it was “established” (“vayakam”). But the hebrew word also means “it was elevated”, as Rashi explains, from being owned by Ephron to being owned by Avraham. But it was also raised in stature by its new use, being an object used for a Mitzvah. Just like objects such as this land/cave can be elevated by using them for good things, we too can elevate ourselves and our existence by performing good deeds.

  • Daily Aliya for Chaye Sarah, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s Torah reading, Chaye Sarah, Sarah dies and Avraham purchases the Cave of Machpela as a burial plot for his wife. Avraham’s servant travels to Aram to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac marries Rebecca. Avraham dies.

    Aliya Summary: Sarah died at the age of 127, and her grieving husband Avraham identified a plot in the city of Chevron that he wished to procure for use as a family burial ground. This plot, a cave situated in the Machpela field, belonged to Ephron the Hittite, so Avraham approached the Hittite tribe and asked for permission to purchase the parcel of land. Originally Ephron wished to give the plot to Avraham as a gift, but after Avraham insisted on paying full price the acquisition was concluded with Avraham paying 400 premium silver coins.

Back to top