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The Bride for Isaac


Torah Portion: Parashat Chayei Sarah (“the life of Sarah”)

Shabbat: Nov. 19, 2022 / Cheshvan 25 5783

Torah: Gen. 23:1-25:18

Prophets: 1 Kings 1:1-31

New Covenant: Matt. 1:1-17, 1 Cor. 15:50-57


The Shema

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”. Deut. 6:4-5


Last week's parashah (Vayera) recounted how the LORD was faithful to Abraham and Sarah by miraculously giving them a son (Isaac) in their old age. Nonetheless, Abraham faced his greatest test of all by being asked to offer up his promised child as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the place of the future Temple. On account of Abraham's willingness to obey, the LORD promised that He would multiply his offspring as the stars of heaven and that in his seed (singular) all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

This week's parashah, Chayei Sarah - the "life of Sarah"- begins (paradoxically) with the account of her death (at age 127), and tells how the first great matriarch of the Jewish people was buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, a burial site which Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver (Gen. 23:1-20). Since the account of Sarah's death is given just after the account of the near-sacrifice of Isaac (i.e., the Akedah), some of the sages link the events together, suggesting that the shock of the loss of her beloved son at the hand of her husband was just too much for her to bear...

After Sarah was buried in Hebron, Abraham sought a wife for his son by commissioning his servant, Eliezer (whom Abraham had originally thought would be his heir), to solicit a bride for Isaac from among his relatives living in Mesopotamia (and not from among the Canaanites). Eliezer (i.e., אֱלִיעֶזֶר, lit., "My God will help") then set out on the 550 mile journey to Haran (also called the City of Nahor and the place where Abraham's father died), taking ten camels laden with gifts in search of a suitable woman. Providentially, and in answer to his prayer, as soon as Eliezer reached the city of Nahor he encountered Abraham's grand niece Rebekah drawing water at a well, where she graciously provided water for him and for his ten camels, thereby confirming that she was God's choice for Isaac.


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