Chayei Sarah

“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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Parashat Chayei Sarah – You can’t build a future without a past Are historical facts meaningless? Doesn’t historical truth have any value? Parashat Chayei Sarah has a straightforward bottom line: you can’t build a future without a past. by Rabbi Sarel Rosenblatt, Senior Faculty Yeshivat Hesder Beren-Machanaim During an international, interfaith conference in the United States …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 – 25:18) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “My lord hearken to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me.”   (Genesis 23:14) A significant part of this Torah portion deals with Abraham’s purchase of the Hebron grave-site …

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