Parsha Talk Chayei Sarah 2023 5784

Parsha Talk with Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Barry Chesler and Jeremy Kalmanofsky. Parashat Hayyai Sarah [23:1–25:18] is the fifth of the weekly parashiyot in Sefer B’reshit [the Book of Genesis]. It begins with the death notice of Sarah, and continues with the first acquisition of land by Avraham in Canaan. This is the basis of the subsequent Jewish claim to the Land. Canaan is the place where Avraham the Hebrew buried his dead. In fact, this burial is the first mention of burial in the Torah. Heretofore, the death notice was simply a death notice, often accompanied with a note on the years the deceased lived. But now, we find Avraham engaging in negotiations to acquire land to bury his dead. A piece of the land now belongs to him, and to his descendants.
The story continues with Avraham now seeking to find a wife for his son Isaac. He sends his servant back east, to the ancestral homeland, to see if he might find a woman willing to come to Canaan. That woman is Rebecca, who we have had occasion to refer to as the Patriarch, so to speak, of the second generation. The parashah continues with the marriage of Avraham to K’turah [later to become the name of a kibbutz in the Negev], and the birth of six subsequent sons. The parashah ends with the death of Avraham, his burial at the Cave of Machpelah attended by both Isaac and Ishmael, and a genealogical line of Ishmael.
In these difficult times we turn to Torah not only for learning and wisdom, but also for comfort. Jeremy spent several days in Israel as part of a mission under the auspices of the Masorti Movement, and he shared his impression of Israel a month after October 7th. We focused our discussion on נחמה [n’hamah, comfort] and ברכה [b’rakhah, blessing]. It has been said that it is not easy to be a Jew, and these days have made that clear yet again. We turn to the Torah, our people’s quest for the eternal, in the hope that in some way the eternal might conquer the temporary, that in the image of Psalm 126, what we sow in tears we might yet reap in joy. Shabbat Shalom.