Weekly Reading Insights: Chaye Sara 5765




Overview of the Weekly Reading: Chayei Sara

To be read on 22 Cheshvan 5765 (Nov. 6)

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

Chayei Sara is the 5th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 5th overall, and 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 Canaanite bride. The servant left for Charan, and arriving at the well, asked G-d to give him a sign. Rivkah arrived to draw 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 family 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 along the border of Egypt all the way to Assyria.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:05-65/Chaye Sara)

Come and see [p. 124b]: The days of a person are all created and exist at [various] supernal levels, in that they complete their existence at these levels [i.e. the seven lower sefirot], as is written, "The days of our years are 70" (Psalms 90:10).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:05-65/Chaye Sara)

The text of this passage of the Torah [understood mystically] is referring to the moment of Redemption, when this "pitcher" [on Nukva's shoulder] will descend to the yesod of Imma.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:05-65/Chaye Sara)

It is well known that Adam incorporated within him all subsequent generations of mankind, for their very existence was through him.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the evening time." (24:63)
As Rashi explains, "meditating" denotes prayer. If the vowels under the words for "evening time," "lifnot arev" are changed slightly, the Hebrew reads "lefanot areiv," literally "to remove sweetness." Isaac prayed to G-d to remove from his heart the desire for gratification from the physical world, which is perceived as sweet.
(Ma'ayanot HaNetzach)

"Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, but to the sons of the concubines...he gave gifts." (25:5-6)
Isaac is symbolic of holiness and the spiritual realm; the "sons of the concubines" stand for the physical and corporeal world. The Torah teaches that we must give "all" of ourselves - the lion's share of our time, energy and talents - to spiritual matters. Worldly matters, however, can be placated with "gifts."
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:05-65/Chaye Sara)

"These were the years of the life of Sarah." (Gen. 23:1)

Although the Torah portion is entitled, "The Life of Sarah" it really commences with her death and events occurring after her passing. This is because the actual effects of Sarah's work during her 127 years were only fully revealed in the events which unfolded after her death. So, too, the ultimate reward and effect of the mitzvot which we fulfill in this world will be fully revealed only in the days of Moshiach.
(Likutei Sichot)

"He [Ishmael] settled (lit. "fell") in the presence of all his brothers...and these are the generations of Isaac." (Gen. 25:18-19)
This is an allusion to the End of Days, when Ishmael will "fall" and will no longer exert dominance over the Jewish people. Moshiach, a descendant of King David in a direct line from Isaac, will then arise to establish G-d's sovereignty in the world.
(Baal HaTurim)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:04-65/Vayeira)

Following Sarah's burial, Abraham realized that he needed to find a wife for Isaac. After all, if Isaac had been sacrificed, Abraham would have no descendants! (Rashi on Gen. 22:20). Therefore Abraham sent his servant, Eliezer to seek a suitable mate for Isaac among Abraham's relatives in Aram Naharaim. Upon his arrival, Eliezer prayed to G-d that he be shown specific signs of acts of kindness performed by Isaac's destined mate to distinguish her from other girls. Why did he not prefer a different manner of measuring her eligibility to marry Isaac?

The Alter Rebbe explains the difference between holiness - in Hebrew, "kedusha" - and its opposite - "kelipa". The foundation of holiness is to give to others: to give the spirit of life to the lowly beings, to constantly give existence and life ex nihilo. On the other hand, the side opposite holiness solely seeks to receive without giving. It shouts "Give, give!" as the verse states: "The leech has two daughters, 'Give' and 'Give...'" (Proverbs 30:15). Therefore Eliezer tested Rebecca in this particular realm. When she herself volunteered "I also will give drink to your camels", he saw this as a sign of her holiness and therefore fitting to marry Abraham's offspring.

I once heard why Eliezer was sent to look for Isaac's bride from among Abraham's relatives, as opposed to a local Canaanite girl. Despite the fact that both groups of people were idol worshippers, there was an intrinsic difference. The daughters of Canaan had truly evil character traits; Abraham's relatives had negative outlooks. In comparison, the former is much more detrimental because it is nearly impossible to alter an ingrained character trait. A bad belief system may also be hard to change, but not as hard as a character trait. Knowing this, Abraham sent Eliezer much farther away in his search, but as seen in the results, Rebecca was truly righteous in all aspects.

The Kli Yakar writes that when Eliezer brought Rebecca back to Abraham, they encountered Isaac praying in the field nearby. The Sages say that the three daily prayers were established by the three forefathers: the Morning Prayer - Abraham, the Afternoon Prayer - Isaac, and the Evening Prayer - Jacob. So when Rebecca and Eliezer saw Isaac, he was praying the Afternoon Prayer. What is interesting in this is that upon completing his prayers, Isaac raised his eyes, and saw that he had immediately been answered. He had prayed to find his wife-to-be, and here she was. We do not find this immediate response to prayer with either of the other two forefathers. From this we learn that for us too, the Afternoon Prayer has a special quality for receiving quick divine response.

The Kli Yakar adds another idea about the fact that Isaac prayed specifically just prior to sunset, which was immediately followed by Rebecca's arrival. This teaches us that the "sun" of Sarah did not set until the "sun" of Rebecca began to rise. This was in order that there should not be a lack of righteous women in the world, as righteous women are compared to the orb of the sun.

The beginning of the parasha tells of the death and burial of our matriarch Sarah, and how Abraham purchased the cave of Machpela in Hebron for her burial. "And after this, Abraham buried Sarah, his wife, in the cave of the field of Machpela" (Gen. 23:19). Hebron and the cave of Machpela have been controversial for centuries, and the controversy continues till today, as the media reminds us.

What amazes me is the false impression given by newspapers here and abroad. Anyone who visits Hebron will tell you, Hebron is an alive, small, but thriving, Jewish community, with real people living there in a day to day struggle to protect one of the holiest sites in our tradition from being abandoned.

The people of Hebron make me proud to be Jewish and live in Israel. I am not sure I could live there, but when I visited I came away certain that it is a community that must be supported by any means possible.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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