Torah Reflections; Lessons in the weekly Torah portion and topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition

Torah Reflections from Torah Readers

Divrai Torah, weekly Torah portion summaries, lessons and essays on topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition.

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Parashat Chayei Sarah

For the week of Sat 19th Nov 2022 - כ״ה בְּחֶשְׁוָן תשפ״ג
Shabbat Mevarchim Chodesh Kislev
Parashat Chayei Sara

God's promises to Abraham and his descendants

God had made promises to Abraham regarding being the father of many nations and the owner of the land of Canaaan, however at the time of Sarah's death, Abraham had none of that.

Did you know that...

The name of Abraham's man-servant who was sent to find Isaac a wife is never mentioned in the torah - not even once! We know through other sources that his name is Eliezer, however why does the Torah not mention his name?

The answer is that Eliezer was so focused on the task assigned to him by Abraham. The story was not about Eliezer but about the near impossible mission, which according to Leviticus Rabba 23:1, was to find a rose among thorns. It was Eliezer's knowledge that he was Abraham's servant and therefore an extension of Abraham, that helped him in his quest to find the perfect bride for Isaac.

Parasha Summary

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Summary of Parashat Chayai Sarah

This week's parasha starts at the end of Sarah's life. Midrash explains that Sarah died upon hearing the news that Abraham had taken Isaac to sacrifice him. But we must ask ourselves, where did Sarah hear this news from?

According to the Midrash God only commanded Abraham to sacrifice Issac since the angels doubted Abraham's commitment and faith in God and wished to test him with the ultimate sacrifice. Once Abraham passed the test, a dark angel wished to prove to God that Abraham's faith was lacking. He then went and told Sarah what Abraham had done. Sarah died of extreme grief upon hearing the news that her son had been sacrificed.

There are two main events in this week's Parasha:

  1. Purchasing the cave of Machpelah for the burial of Sarah
  2. Finding a wife for Isaac

Parasha Summary

  • Sarah dies, Abraham purchases the Cave of Machpelah as a burial site for Sarah
  • Abraham summons his servant and orders him to find a suitable bride for Isaac. He asks him to travel to his native land of Aram to find a wife for Isaac there.
  • The servant prays to God to help him find the perfect bride for Isaac and asks for a heavenly sign.
  • A young woman appears and in response to the servant's request to drink, she also offers his camels some water.
  • Upon questioning the servant discovers that the young girl is Rebbeca - Abrahams great-niece 
  • Rebecca ran to tell her family about the man at the well, and her brother, Laban, went out, greeted the servant, and invited him to spend the night.
  • Rebecca's family agreed that the match was divinely ordained, and consented to the proposed match.
  • Rebecca returns with the servant to Canaan and marries Issac.
  • Abraham remarries and has six more children (Midrash tells us that He married Hagar)
  • Abraham dies aged 175 and is buried by Isaac and Ishmael in the Cave of Machpelah beside his wife Sarah
  • The Parasha ends with the list of Ishmael's descendants. Ishmael dies aged 137

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