Weekly Reading Insights: Chayei Sara 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Chayei Sara

To be read on 24 Cheshvan 5766 (Nov.26)

Genesis 23:1-25:18; Haftorah: Kings I 1:1-31 (because the first verse is like Gen. 24:1)
Shabbat Mevorchim - Blessing the New Month; Shabbat Hevron

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:0466/Vayera)

But because Abraham and Sarah did not embrace impurity, Sarah merited the life of the World to Come for herself, her husband and all her descendents... for she clung to life, and therefore her [years and days] are "alive". Accordingly the verse states, "these will be the life of Sarah," for they continue to live above - one hundred in the higher worlds, twenty in the higher worlds, and seven in the higher worlds.

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:0566/Chayei)

As we have already explained, Abraham originates in the supernal face [of Arich Anpin], which shines forth 370 lights. Therefore, when these five states of chesed spread through the yesod of Zeir Anpin, they make "Joseph" - "of good form and good appearance" (Gen. 39:6), due to the beauty of the supernal face of Arich Anpin, the source of the five states of chesed.

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

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From Rabbi Moshe Alshich (S:0566/Chayei)

The significance of these four phenomena is worth exploring. We know that Abraham and Sarah had begun to repair the moral damage caused by Adam and Eve, and in turn their lives' work was continued by Isaac and Rebecca. The Zohar (in parashat Vayechi) even considers the bodies of Abraham and Sarah as the vehicles for the reincarnated souls of Adam and Eve. This may also explain why Adam and Eve and the Patriarchs all had to be buried in the same burial vault.

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


"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-shekel 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


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"Yitzchak brought her [Rivka] into the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took her for a wife." Gen. 24:67

This word ha'ohelah ("into the tent.") is written eight times in the Torah. These allude to the 8 places where the Divine Presence was destined to rest among the Jewish people. The 7 places where the Divine Presence already rested were:
1) the Mishkan (the sanctuary) in the desert,
2) Gilgal,
3) Shiloh,
4) Nov,
5) Givon,
6) the first Bais Hamikdash, and
7) the second Bais Hamikdash.

The 8th place will be the Third Temple which will be built in the Days of Mashiach.

(Baal HaTurim)

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:0566/Chayei)

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 parsha 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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