For the week ending 19 November 2011 / 21 Heshvan 5772

Parshat Chayei Sara

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Sarah, Mother of the Jewish People, passes on at age 127. After mourning and eulogizing her, Avraham seeks to bury her in the Cave of Machpela. As this is the burial place of Adam and Chava, Avraham pays its owner, Ephron the Hittite, an exorbitant sum. Avraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer to find a suitable wife for his son Yitzchak, making him swear to choose a wife only from among Avrahams family. Eliezer travels to Aram Naharaim and prays for a sign. Providentially, Rivka appears. Eliezer asks for water. Not only does she give him water, but she draws water for all 10 of his thirsty camels. (Some 140 gallons!) This extreme kindness marks her as the right wife for Yitzchak and a suitable Mother of the Jewish People. Negotiations with Rivka's father and her brother Lavan result in her leaving with Eliezer. Yitzchak brings Rivka into his mother Sarahs tent, marries her and loves her. He is then consoled for the loss of his mother. Avraham remarries Hagar who is renamed Ketura to indicate her improved ways. Six children are born to them. After giving them gifts, Avraham sends them to the East. Avraham passes away at the age of 175 and is buried next to Sarah in the Cave of Machpela.


Wasted On The Young

“…the years of the life of Sarah.” (23:1)

Those of us who are old enough to have trouble recalling large areas of their youth will at least have no trouble remembering some standout moments of total irresponsibility. Like hitching a ride with a lunatic German motorcyclist careening his BMW 900 down the autobahn at 100 miles-an-hour through torrential rain in the dead of night. Or going for a walk by yourself in New York City and suddenly realizing that you’re in the middle of Harlem.

“Youth is wasted on the young” runs the old adage. As our hair thins and our waistlines thicken, we try and shed the immaturity of youth and improve our characters, and our actions.

It comes out, then, that what we really can call our ‘life’ — our arriving at some kind of perfection in this world — happens pretty close to our departure from this world. Viewed in this way, our ‘lives’ are even shorter than we thought, and even without the help of lunatic escapades and motorcycle madness.

All the above is true of the average person. However, there are those special people whose entire lives are focused and directed to their ultimate goal. Such were “the years of the life of Sarah.” As Rashi says “all of them were equal in their goodness.” None of them were wasted or misspent. And even though, of course, Sarah’s stature grew in old age, this was the dividend of a holy life spend in doing mitzvot and good deeds, rather than the necessity to forsake the foolishness of youth — for “all of them were equal in their goodness.”

  • Source: Based on the Sfat Emet

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