Weekly Reading Insights: Chayei Sara  

Overview of the Weekly Reading

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



"The years of the life of Sarah...." [23:1]
Why is the parsha called Chaye Sara ("Life of Sarah")? It relates about her death and the events after that, the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivka, etc. But true life, eternal life, is only when the children continue to live in the way of the parents. When a person's influence continues to be felt, then he is still alive. When do we know for sure that Sarah's life was true? When we read that her son Yitzchak continued her path.
(from Likutei Sichos - translated from Sichat HaShavuah #408)

"The years of the life of Sarah…." [23:1]
"All equally good."
But most of her life she wasn't able to have children, and many other sorrows befell her too, such as wandering in exile and being kidnapped; how can all her years be considered good? Because no matter what happened she would say "Gam zu l'tova."-"This too is for good." She recognized that everything that happens is from G-d, so she never felt that anything bad happened to her.
(From Rebbe Zusha of Anipoli - translated from Sichat HaShavuah #463)

"Abraham stood and bowed to the people of the land." (23:7,12)
In the account of how Avraham bought a burial place for Sarah from the Hittites, he bowed down twice before them. But the Midrash says that the Hittites had appointed Avraham as king over them, and that he was not really bowing down to them, but rather he was bowing down to G-d, thanking Him for his having been appointed king.
In reward for these 2 times that Avraham bowed, all the nations of the world would also bow 2 times to his children, the Jewish people. The first time that they bowed down was in the times of King Solomon, as it is written, (Ps. 72:11), "All the kings bowed to him." The second time will be in the days of Mashiach, as the prophet Isaiah said (49:23), "Kings will be your baby-sitters, and their princesses will be your nursemaids, and they will bow their faces to the ground before you."
(From Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion, as posted on Mashiach.org)

"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)

"Let it be that the maiden to whom I will say, 'Let down your pitcher, I pray you, that I may drink,' and she will say, 'Drink, and I will also give drink to your camels'." (24:14)
This "test" of a potential bride for Isaac was not chosen arbitrarily, for it involves the very nature of holiness: The main distinction between holiness and its opposite is that holiness is directed outward; it overflows, influences its surroundings and infuses them with life. The nature of unholiness, by contrast, is to take and acquire for itself. When Eliezer saw that Rebecca not only gave him to drink but provided water for his camels, he took it as a sign that she "belonged" to the side of holiness, and was worthy of marrying the son of Abraham.
(Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi)

"The servant ran towards her." (24:17)
Rashi explains, Eliezer ran toward Rebecca because he had just seen the water in the well spontaneously rise. But having just witnessed an open miracle, why would Eliezer need further evidence that Rebecca was kind? Rather, this teaches that one positive character trait in a person is worth more than a hundred wonders and miracles.
(Rabbi Yechezkel of Kozmir)

"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)

"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)

"Isaac went out to meditate in the field." (24:63)
Rashi explains that the word "meditate" means "to pray - as if pouring forth the contents of one's heart." If such is the case, why didn't the Torah explicitly state that Isaac went out to pray in the field? We are supposed to take a lesson for our general conduct from the way Isaac prayed. A person should not call attention to himself and publicly announce his fear of Heaven. Rather, we should conduct ourselves as Isaac did - quietly, and without fanfare. A passer-by would have thought that Isaac was only strolling in the field, when in reality he was composing the afternoon prayer.
(Leket Amarim)

"Isaac took Rebecca into his mother Sara's tent, …and she became his wife; and he loved her." (24:67)
"He brought her into the tent and, behold, she was like Sara, his mother! While Sara was alive her Shabbat lights miraculously used to burn from one Friday to the next...." [Rashi]
Rebecca was only three years old when she married Isaac. She was therefore not obligated to fulfill the mitzva (commandment) of lighting the Shabbat candles, especially since Abraham had been doing it since Sara's death. However, Rebecca was not satisfied to participate in the candle lighting of Abraham. She herself lit the Shabbat candles. The above is a clear indication to us that before marriage, and even before bat mitzva - from the age of three years, Jewish girls should light a Shabbat candle.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

"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)

"His sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him [Avraham] in Machpela Cave." [25:9]
By allowing Isaac to walk ahead of him, Ishmael was demonstrating that he had truly repented, since he was conceding that Isaac was Abraham's legitimate heir. It is appropriate that Ishmael's repentance is mentioned specifically in parashat Chayei Sarah, for Sarah deserves the credit for Ishmael's reformation. Her insistence on disciplining Ishmael eventually led him to repent and recognize the truth.
[Lubavitcher Rebbe]



"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)

After the passing of his wife Sara, Abraham purchased the field in Hebron with the Cave of Machpelah as a burial place. This purchase represents the beginning of the general redemption of all Jews. The commentary Pa'ane'ach Raza explains that with the 400 silver shekels that Abraham paid (Gen. 23:16), he purchased one square cubit of the Land of Israel for every one of the 600,000 root-souls of the Children of Israel.
(From Discover Moshiach)

"Avraham hearkened to Ephron and weighed out the …four hundred shekels of silver…." (23:16)
When Avraham was obtaining a place to bury Sarah, Efron first said that he wanted to give the field of Machpelah in Chevron as a gift. But Avraham insisted on paying full price -- and even a very exorbitant price -- for the field. This is one of the 3 places that were clearly bought by the Jewish people and that the sale was recorded in the Written Torah.
Therefore, the gentiles can't even pretend to complain that we have taken it from them illegally. The second place is the burial place of Yosef, as it is written (Gen. 33:19), "And he (Yaakov) bought the piece of land." The third place is the location of the first two Holy Temples, which was bought by King David for 600 gold shekels (Chron. I, 21:25). It is on that place where the 3rd Temple also will be built.
(From Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion, as posted on Mashiach.org)

"I came today…." [24:42]
"Today I embarked and today I arrived"-from here we see that the earth contracted for him. -Rashi
Until Rebecca turned three and became of marriageable age, Abraham had no justification to extricate her from her evil family or environment, or even to initiate such a process. But once that time came, it would have been harmful to leave Rebecca there for even one additional day. Eliezer's journey, therefore, had to be miraculously quick, for, on the one hand, he could not have left a day earlier, and on the other hand, he could not have arrived even a day later. God therefore miraculously expedited his journey so that Rebecca would not have to be left there for even one unnecessary day.

As with all the events that occurred to the patriarchs and matriarchs, this one, too, presaged the future redemption of their descendants. When it came time for the Jews to leave Egypt, God took them out without a moment's delay. So, too, when the long-awaited time arrives for us to be redeemed from our present and final exile, God will certainly not detain us for even one unnecessary moment.
[Lubavitcher Rebbe]

"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]

"Avraham took another wife, whose name was Ketura. She bore him…"(25:1)
After Sara's passing, Abraham married Ketura and they had six sons. All six grew up to be idol worshippers. How could Abraham who was renown as a G-d-fearing, righteous person, and his wife Ketura (who according to the Midrash was also wholly righteous) have had such children?

Before the Redemption, it can happen that righteous people will have some children who grow up to be righteous and others who grow up to be evil. But in the Days of Mashiach, all will be righteous, as it says (Isaiah 60:21), "They shall inherit the land forever; they are the branch of my planting and the work of my hands of which I take pride." (Bereishit Raba 61:4)
(From L'Chaim #843)

"Ketura bore him….All these were Ketura's descendants….Avraham sent them to the land of the East, away from his son Yitzchak." (Gen. 25:1-6)
Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni said: When Avraham saw the great number of children he had with his final wife, Ketura, he knew that they would be harmful to Yitzchak and therefore, Avraham sent them off to the far eastern end of the world.

Avraham said to them: "Yitzchak is my precious son. Any nations which will enslave Yitzchak and his descendants will be punished severely in Gehenom. Therefore you should all stay far away in the east. As long as the children of Yitzchak are enslaved among the nations, remain where you are. But when you will hear that they are living safely and securely, come and serve them. In this way you will merit the Shofar of Mashiach."
In the days of Shlomo, some of them came to serve the Jewish people, thinking that he was The King Mashiach. When they saw that he wasn't, they returned to the east. They will return when Mashiach is actually revealed, may it be speedily in our days!
(Midrash Hagadol) (From Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion, as posted on Mashiach.org)

"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).]

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