Chayei Sarah

“Parsha and Purpose” – Chayei Sarah 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

Isaac and Ishmael: Burying Grievances and Bringing the Redemption

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Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18) 

Isaac and Ishmael: Burying Grievances and Bringing the Redemption

When Avraham passes away, we’re told in this week’s parsha, “וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ יִצְחָק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל”: and Yitzhak and Yishma’el, his children, bury him in the Ma’arat HaMachpela. [Genesis 25:9]

This verse is so powerful – it shows that two warring children were able to make peace and eventually come together. There was a rapprochement between the two of them, and many commentators allude to this message of them coming together. [see Rashi to Genesis 25:9, based on Bava Batra 16b]

But when I read this pasuk, this verse, I see a larger message.

One year after the Abrahamic Accords, which in many ways is an expansion of the coming together that’s found in this pasuk, because now it is the children of Yitzhak and the children of Yishmael that are coming together.

For so long, religion has played a role, or has been used and manipulated, to create conflict and strife in society.

But just maybe we’re getting to the point of וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ יִצְחָק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל, that we’ve learned how to bury our differences. Not to suggest that we should worship the same way or should have the same faith systems. No!

We have different ways of worshiping, and they should be celebrated and they should remain distinct to our own private communities. But the potential to work together to create harmony and peace in our society, as Rabbi Soloveitchik discusses in Confrontation, the ability for the children to dialogue on poverty, on freedom, on moral values, on technology, on human values and civil rights.

That’s our responsibility, to bury the animosity. And it’s critical to understand that Torah and Judaism is not a religion of exclusion, but one of pluralism. We believe there are multiple entry points through which one can live a life of purpose, and that’s why Judaism never promotes conversion.

At the end of time, the pasuk in Isaiah tells us “וַהֲבִיאוֹתִים אֶל הַר קָדְשִׁי”, that we will invite all Jews and all faiths systems, “וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי”, to be joyous in our house,

“עוֹלֹתֵיהֶם וְזִבְחֵיהֶם לְרָצוֹן עַל מִזְבְּחִי”. [Isaiah 56:7]

Everyone will be welcome. Everyone will be able to rejoice, not just following one path, because that ultimately is the time of the messianic era: the recognition that Judaism celebrates multiple forms of prayer, multiple engagements. And the messianic time is when the children of Yitzhak and the children of Yishmael are able to bury their animosity and to help merge and bring a redemptive quality to society.

Shabbat Shalom.

Yinon Ahiman

The Offering of Yitzhak; the Offering of Sarah Yinon Ahiman is the Director General of the Ohr Torah Stone network The Midrash offers two main explanations pertaining to the particular timing of Sarah’s death.  The first is related to the birth of Rivka, which appears two verses prior to the mention of Sarah’s death (Bereshit …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “When Rebecca looked up and saw Isaac, she fell from the camel. And she asked the servant: ‘What man is this walking in the field to meet us?’ And the servant responded, ‘It is my master.’ And she took her veil …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Chayei Sarah 5781
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Elevating Marriage During a Time of Crisis”

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“Elevating Marriage During a Time of Crisis”

During these months of the COVID crisis, many of our relationships have been tested – whether between parents and children, siblings, friends, neighbors, or co-workers; the list goes on and on.

But perhaps no relationship has been tested more than that of husband and wife. 

Unfortunately, domestic abuse is on a global rise; a pandemic within a pandemic.

What does the Torah think regarding nurturing and strengthening the most important relationship in our lives during times of high stress and anxiety?

Let’s go back to the roots of marriage in Jewish thought.

The Talmud in Massechet Kiddushin declares “קיחה קיחה משדה עפרון”, that one of the ways to formalize a relationship between bride and groom in the institution of marriage is derived from Avraham’s purchase of a burial plot for his beloved wife, Sarah – as we read in this week’s Parsha, Chayei Sarah. Kiddushin 2a, Kiddushin 3a, Kiddushin 11b

This is based on the fact that the verb “לקח”, to take, is used in the context of that event: “נתתי כסף השדה קח ממני”, “I will give you money for the field, take it from me,” and is also used in the Torah’s description of the act of marriage in Parshat Ki Teitze: “כי יקח איש אשה”, “When a man formalizes a relationship with his wife.”

Why is the Talmud wedded to the verbal analogy between these two manifestations of the word “קיחה” – taking?

By choosing this verbal analogy, the Rabbis wish to share with us a deeper message.

The fact that Avraham goes above and beyond in order to purchase a prime location to bury his beloved wife highlights the intensity of the relationship between the two of them.

Their deeply intense connection is what we wish to emulate in marriage.

Marriage is a wonderous process that begins with a loving rendezvous underneath the chuppah.

But with time, these feelings can fade. It takes a tremendous effort and will to ensure that the love and connection between spouses grows and evolves in the years to come.

It is for that reason that the Rabbis never legislated a specific bracha on the institution of marriage.

Because a bracha is recited on an act that has an immediate beginning and an end. But the institution of marriage is an ongoing medium through which one can achieve sacred moments in time with loved ones and God.

So in this age of COVID, when our marital relationships may be challenged and pushed to new limits, let’s keep this idea in mind.

As we study the verses of Chayei Sarah, let us be reminded of humanity’s treasured gift of marriage and pledge to work at strengthening the relationship between ourselves and our spouses.

Shabbat Shalom.

This week’s parsha commentary has been dedicated in honor of  David Katz’s Birthday – ad me’ah v’esrim by the Charif Family of Sydney, Australia Shabbat Shalom: Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 – 25:18) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And Abraham was old, well-stricken in age…” (Gen. 24:1) In addition to their shared ideals, the …

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RKB Chayei Sarah

“Parsha and Purpose” – Insights from Rabbi Kenneth Brander into Torah and Contemporary Life

Parshat Chayei Sarah 5780

Sources cited

  • Genesis 24:64

Shabbat Shalom: Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin    Efrat, Israel – “Sarah died in Kiryat Arba, which is Hebron in the Land of Canaan. And Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep over her.” (Genesis 23:2) What was Sarah doing in Hebron? According to a simple reading of the text, Abraham, …

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