Weekly Reading Insights

Chayei Sara 5763

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Chayei Sara
To be read on 27 Mar Cheshvan 5763 (Nov. 2)

Overview of the Weekly Reading, Chayei Sara, Shabbat Hebron  

Torah: Genesis 23:1-25:18;
Haftorah: Kings I 1:1-31 (because the first verse is like Gen. 24:1)

Shabbat Mevarchim - Blessing the New Month

:Chayei Sara, 5th out of 12 in Genesis, contains 0 positive mitzvot and 0 prohibitive mitzvot.
It is written on 171 lines in a parchment Torah scroll, 37th out of 54 in overall length.

Sarah died at the age of 127. Avraham bought the Cave of Machpelah. Avraham sent his servant to look for a wife for his son, making him swear not to bring back a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites. The servant left for Nachor, and arriving at the well, he asked G-d to give him a sign. Rivkah appeared to collect water. The servant asked if he may have some, and after he drank she drew more water for his camels. The servant spent the night in her father’s house. Her father agreed to let Rivkah marry Yitzchak. Avraham remarried Keturah, who bore him six sons. Avraham died at the age of 175, and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, next to Sarah. Ishmael had twelve sons, each princes for their nations. He died at the age of 137. His descendants lived in the land on the border of Egypt all the way to Assyria.


"G-d had blessed Abraham in all things." (24:1)

There are those righteous people whose main goal in life is to be whole and one with G-d. But this is not the way of the true tzadik. Indeed, the way of Abraham was to concern himself with "all things." He did not worry just about himself, but about others as well. And so he was blessed in a like manner.

(Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev)

"The man took a gold earring, weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets." (24:22)

The commentator Rashi explains that the half-shekel alludes to the half-shekel that each Jew donated to the Holy Temple, while the two bracelets allude to the two Tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Thus, with these gifts, Eliezer implied that when establishing a Jewish home, Torah and the performance of mitzvot form its pillars. The half-hekel illustrates the mitzva of charity, while the two bracelets, symbolizing the two Tablets, allude to the Torah itself which is included in the Ten Commandments.

(Likutei Sichot



Selected with permission and adapted from the three-volume English edition of
Shney Luchot HaBrit -- the Sh'lah, as translated, condensed, and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known as the 'Sh'lah' - an acronym of the title, was born in Prague. A scholar of outstanding reputation, he served as chief Rabbi of Cracow, and more famously, of Frankfort (1610-1620). After his first wife passed away, he remarried and moved to Israel in 1621, where he became the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He later moved to Tiberias, where he is buried, near the tomb of the Rambam.

Adam HaRishon contained elements of all mankind. When a person dies Adam becomes visible to that person seeing he is a “branch” of him. Everyone’s burial site should contain some connection with original man, however physically distant it might be from either the original altar or the cave of Machpelah. Every person will benefit in some way from the example of Adam, the degree of such benefit depending on his individual merit. Just as Adam incorporated part of all mankind when he came into being, so he has something in common with every human being when that human being dies.

However, this link to Adam is only via the patriarchs who serve as the go-between. The only people who are named Avot, patriarchs, are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The same applies to the matriarchs. Only Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah are considered Imahot, matriarchs. We are all considered their children seeing that they are the roots and we are the branches. This whole process commenced ultimately with Adam and Eve, both of whom together are called Adam.

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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(W:05-63 Chayei Sara )

This week's parsha tells how Avraham bought Ma'arat HaMachpelah, the Machpelah Cave, for the burial of Sarah. "Machpelah" comes from the word 'caful'-double. According to one opinion, the cave acquired this name because it was composed of two stories, "a dwelling with an upper level". Ultimately, Avraham wanted the cave because it had room for the burial of the future forefathers and their wives, as well, but there is another deeper reason:

According to esoteric teachings on the verse, "And Sarah died in Kiryat Arba, which is Chevron (Hebron), in the land of Cna'an" (23/2), Sarah symbolizes the soul which descends into this physical world from a lofty supernal one. This world is called the "land of Cna'an"-meaning the 'business world'-since in Hebrew, the word 'cna'an' is a synonym for 'merchants'. Our purpose in life is to do business, not in the Wall Street sense, but rather to gain spiritual revenues and raise our soul's status. Through serving G-d, our 'stock' increases and we climb the spiritual ladder.

A living person is called "Chevron", which comes from the word 'chibur'-connected, unified. The body is composed of the four elements: fire, air, water, and dust, which unite in the purpose of allowing the body to exist. Once the person passes away, these elements separate from each other. The words 'Kiryat Arba'-literally the 'town of four'-hints to the separation of the four elements. When a person finishes his or her work in this world, he or she reaches "HaMachpelah", the place for burial. This word has two letters 'hei'-one in the beginning and one at the end of the word. This is like G-d's four letter Name which also has two letters hei. This double hei also corresponds to the cave being composed of two chamber, upper and lower.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that before the soul makes the aforementioned descent into this world, it is on the level of 'tzadik'-truly righteous-completely surrounded by G-dliness, just as a righteous human being is. Upon the soul's descent it is faced with many spiritual challenges, even battling real evil. Yet through these struggles the soul is elevated, attaining the status of 'ba'al t'shuva'-a 'master of returning to G-d'. As wonderful as it was for the soul to be an elevated 'tzadik', the level of 'baal t'shuva' is even higher, as it says "in the place where ba'alei t'shuva stand, complete tzadikim cannot stand." For this reason, a soul's descent from Heaven is worthwhile-so that it can reach an even higher level as a 'ba'al t'shuva'.

Again we find the concept of double-HaMachpelah: Within t'shuva are two levels: higher and lower t'shuva. These two levels correspond to the two letters 'hei' in G-d's Name. The first hei corresponds to the lower t'shuva; the second hei relates to the higher t'shuva. A soul comes down to the world with the ultimate intent of attaining not only the lower t'shuva, but the higher one, as well.

May each of us merit to serve G-d fully, acquiring as much spiritual merchandise as possible, and succeed in doing even the higher level of t'shuva. May all this bring the immediate revelation of Moshiach when we will learn Torah with our forefathers and mothers.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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