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Home » Chayei Sara

Chayei Sarah: Food for Thought at Your Dinner Table

Submitted by on October 28, 2007 – 1:59 amNo Comment | 1,184 views

Sunday: the Joy of Giving

Sarah lived one-hundred and twenty-seven years. Our sages taught that she was as beautiful when she was one-hundred as she was when she was seven. At the age of seven we might seem cute or adorable, but not yet beautiful. Beauty tends to settle in with age. Why then is seven chosen as the benchmark for Sarah’s beauty?

For her first hundred years, Sarah was childless. Our sages taught that we don’t truly learn to live till we experience children of our own. One would imagine that till Sarah gave birth she did not truly revel in the beautiful joy of life. Yet, this was not the case. At the age of one-hundred when she gave birth, Sarah was no more aglow with beauty and life then she was at the age of seven, way before she could even dream of giving birth. This was due to her efforts to inspire others to monotheism and a moral way of life.

Adopting others and taking them under our wing does not require reward. It becomes its own reward. (Divrei Yisrael)

Monday: Entering the Day

“Abraham was old, he had entered his days.” When we are fully immersed in the events of our days, when we allow ourselves to personalize all that transpires, it can be said that we have entered our day.

Those who work in the medical care profession are often advised not to grow too attached to their patients, to remain distanced and uninvolved. This strategy can provide comfort for the care provider, but it affects the care they provide. Those who immerse themselves in the fate of their patients, those who care for their patients and learn to laugh and cry with them, know how to reach their patients deeply and make a true difference. The same is true in life. Abraham was never apathetic. Even as he grew old, he (fully) entered (the events of) his days. Likutei Sichot.

Tuesday: The Servant’s Prayer

Abraham tasked his servant, Eliezer, with finding a match for his son Isaac. Before Eliezer embarked on his mission Abraham prayed that G-d crown the mission with success. When Eliezer arrived to his destination he too prayed that for success.

Eliezer, a righteous and learned servant, surely knew of Abraham’s special relationship with G-d. He heard Abraham pray and was surely confident that Abraham’s prayers would be answered. Why did he  pray himself? Eliezer knew that Abraham was worthy of divine blessing, but was not certain that he was a worthy messenger through whom the blessing should be directed. He prayed that he be a worthy vehicle to deliver a blessing for his master Abraham.

Sometimes G-d offers blessing, but are we worthy of His blessing? Or Hachayim

Wednesday: A Shortened Journey

Eliezer told his hosts that he had arrived today. Rashi comments, “today I left and today I arrived. His journey was miraculously shortened.” What was the purpose of this miracle?

Rivkah was living in an utterly immoral environment. She was like a delicate rose in a thorn bush. Thorns hold the rose in their clutches because they realize that alongside the rose, they too will be watered. Rivkah’s family recognized her piety, they wanted her company for they understood that blessing would flow through Rivkah to her family.

Yet Poor Rivkah was suffering and this suffering was felt many miles away in Abraham’s home. Abraham immediately dispatched Eliezer to liberate Rivkah from her spiritual incarceration. No time could be wasted, G-d’s daughter was in misery. The journey was therefore shortened. Likutei Sichot

Thursday: The Afternoon Prayer

Elijah called the prophets of the Baal to a duel. They would each erect an altar upon Mount Carmel and pray to their G-d. The G-d who would consume the sacrifices would be accepted by all. The Baal prophets erected an altar and prayed all morning, but to no avail. Elijah waited till the afternoon and then began to pray, whereupon a fire descended from the skies and consumed the sacrifice.

Our sages discerned from this story that one should always be scrupulous about the afternoon, Minchah, prayer. Of course Elijah only started his prayers in the afternoon. What if he had started in the morning? To phrase the question differently, how did Elijah know to pray in the afternoon?

Abraham coined the morning prayer, Isaac coined the afternoon prayer and Jacob coined the evening prayer. When Rivkah arrived to Isaac’s home she encountered Isaac returning from the fields. What was he doing in the field? Our sages suggest that he went to pray. Isaac was presumably praying that Eliezer return with a worthy woman and his prayers were immediately answered. This is how Elijah knew to pray in the afternoon and this is why our sages encouraged us to be scrupulous about our afternoon prayers.  Kli Yakar.

Friday: Years that he Lives

“These were the years of the life of Abraham that he lived, one Hundred and seventy five years.” Abraham was three years old when he discovered G-d. For fully three years Abraham worshiped idols. Yet the Torah testifies that Abraham lived all the years of his life. Not a single year was wasted, not a single year was neglected, not even the years during which he struggled to discover the creator.

When  we truly struggle to do what is right, we are considered righteous even if we fail. G-d perceives our effort. He judges our sincerity. Not our successes. Torat Moshe (R. Moshe Alshich)

Shabbat: Long Years

“Ishmael breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people.” Rashi comments that the words, “He breathed his last,” are only attributed to the righteous, which indicates that Ishmael repented toward the end of his life. Why do the words, “He breathed his last,” apply only to the righteous?

When the righteous expire their souls ascend in their entirety to heaven. No vestige of the soul remains tied down to the body. This is because the passion of the righteous is for the spiritual. Once the righteous expire there is nothing that holds them down in this world.

Others truly enjoy the physical pleasures of this world. Hence when they expire a small part of their soul is loath to depart. It wants to remain in this world and is tied down to the body.

Of the righteous it would be accurate to say that with their passing they breathe their last. With regard to others this statement is not completely true. While physical breathing has ended, the soul still remains present and somewhat attached to the body for yet a little while longer. (Maharal)

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