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Rabbi Arthur Segal’s love of people, humanity, and Judaism has him sharing with others “The Wisdom of the Ages” that has been passed on to him. His writings for modern Jews offer Spiritual, Ethical, and eco-Judaic lessons in plain English and with relevance to contemporary lifestyles. He is the author of countless articles, editorials, letters, and blog posts, and he has recently published two books:

The Handbook to Jewish Spiritual Renewal: A Path of Transformation for the Modern Jew

and

A Spiritual and Ethical Compendium to the Torah and Talmud

You can learn more about these books at:

www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.org
ALL ENTRIES ARE (C) AND PUBLISHED BY RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL, INC, AND NOT BY ANY INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE OF SAID CORPORATION. THIS APPLIES TO 3 OTHER BLOGS (CHUMASH, ECO, SPIRITUALITY) AND WEB SITES PUBLISHED BY SAID CORPORATION.

Friday, November 6, 2015

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL: CHAYEI SARAH: CHESED KINDNESS: RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL: CHAYEI SARAH: CHESED KINDNESS: RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL: CHAYEI SARAH: CHESED KINDNESS: RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL: CHAYEI SARAH: CHESED KINDNESS: RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL

 

RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL:

JEWISH SPIRITUAL RENEWAL :

Chayei Sarah:

EFRON : USED CAR SALESMAN

Parasha Chayei Sarah: Genesis 23:01-25:18

RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segalwww.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal www.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com 
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA

 

 

 "Thank Heaven For Little Girls"

Synoptic Abstract

 

When Sarah dies at 127 years of age, Abraham buys her burial site at what is now modern-day Hebron in the West Bank. He then sends Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac, and Eliezer returns with Rebecca, the sister of Laban. Isaac marries Rebecca. Abraham remarries and has six more sons. Can you name them? Abraham dies when he is 175 years old. Isaac and Ishmael bury him next to Sarah in Hebron. It sounds simple enough. Or is it?

 

 Three funerals are described in this parasha (Sarah's, Abraham's and Ishmael's) . Judaism accords great respect to the dead, those who have preceded us. But don't take that to mean that Judaism dwells in the past. Judaism does not neglect what lies ahead. Abraham continues with his life as soon as Sarah is buried, sending his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. Judaism is a linear process. It must grow and adapt to survive. It has grown, adapted, and reformed throughout its history, never stagnating. As rabbi Mordechai Kaplan (20th Century founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) stated: "Our traditions have a vote, but not a veto."

 

"Sarah's life time (Chayei Sarah, which is our parasha's name) was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years." (Gen. 23:01). Rashi gives an explanation about the repetition of the word years. Sarah's life was divided into three periods. At one hundred years, she was as sinless as a twenty-year-old. At twenty, she still had the wholesome beauty of a seven year old. Rashi says that three miracles occurred for Sarah due to her spirituality. According to the Midrash, her Shabbat candles burned an entire week, the dough she used for bread made more challah than it should have, and a special protective cloud covered her tent.

 

 The sages say that Sarah was so wonderful that her behavior atoned for Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. Sarah was the first Eishet Chayil (woman of valor) and the first woman with a true "ba'alat chesed" (personality of kindness). The Midrash also compares her to Queen Esther. They say that because Sarah lived for 127 years, Esther was rewarded for her own kindness by ruling over 127 provinces.

 

Abraham negotiates with Efron for a burial site. He buys the cave of Machpelah in the town of Kiriat-Arba. The name of the cave means "double." This is because it is a two-tiered cave because of the patriach-matriach couples that will be buried here. The name of the town means "city of four." This town is named after the four mythical giants who lived there. The spies claimed they saw them years later during Moses' time. The town's name may reflect the four couples traditionally thought to be buried here: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, and Adam and Eve. The Zohar says Adam and Eve were buried here because the Garden of Eden was close by. The Zohar goes further and says this cave is the entrance to "Gan Eden."

 

Efron is a shrewd bargainer. If any of you have traveled to any country where bargaining is the norm, you will love the details of this story. Frankly, if any of you have bought a used car lately (with my apologies to my friends in the car biz) you will find this tale endearing. Abraham offers full price for the cave. Efron says to take it as a gift along with the entire field, as it would not be fitting to have a burial site located on another's property. Abraham agrees, and Efron names the price for the full field with the cave, for which Abraham pays. Even though Abraham has had a rough time recently with his almost sacrificing Isaac and his wife dying, and even though Efron is a crook, Abraham remains an upright individual. Throughout the chapter, Efron's name is spelled with a "vuv" (a silent letter that becomes sounded when a vowel is added to it). As soon as the sale is consummated, Efron's name no longer is written with this letter.

 

Since Efron made such a public display of offering the land to Abraham for free, and then privately overcharged him, Efron lost his stature. Rashi says this is what we are being taught by the missing vuv. Abraham was asked to pay four hundred shekels. He counted out four hundred shekels in "negotiable currency"(23:16). Talmud Tractate Bava Metzia 87A says that each shekel that Abraham gave was worth 2,500 ordinary shekels. Thus, Abraham paid one million shekels to Efron. Even though Efron was now wealthy, he had no standing with God or Abraham, as he proved himself to be deceitful and manipulative. Efron is no better than the land that he sold. His name without the vuv can now be read "afran" which is Hebrew for dirt.

 

The parasha juxtaposes the Efron-Abraham story with the Rebecca-Eliezer story. Eliezer also is in need. He has traveled a long distance and he and his animals are thirsty. Rebecca, without expectation for reward, gives Eliezer and his camels water. But she did so in an exalted manner. She lowered the jug herself into the well to spare Eliezer the effort. She held the jug and brought it to his mouth so he would not need to hold it. She then brought up water for all of his camels. Verse 24:10 says that Eliezer had ten camels. A thirsty camel can drink 14 gallons of water. Rebecca herself brought up 140 gallons of water! And the Torah said she did all of this while running (24:20) back and forth to the well so that no one camel would feel thirst while another camel was drinking.

 

When Eliezer asks if she can provide lodging, not only does she say yes, but she offers to lodge the camels as well. Eliezer is "astonished" (24:21) by her acts of kindness (chesed) and gives her all of the betrothal gifts that he was to save for a member of Abraham's brother's household before he knew that Rebecca was from the clan to which Abraham belonged. Eventually Rebecca agrees to go back to Abraham's camp with Eliezer to marry Isaac. Verse 24:59 says that a nurse went with Rebecca. The sages, by using the numbers of ages given in the book of Genesis, determine that Rebecca is only 3 years old when she marries Isaac.

 

Abraham marries Keturah. As mentioned in last week's D'var Torah, the rabbis say that Keturah is really Hagar who remained chaste after Abraham expelled her. Keturah means "restrained" or "chaste" in Aramaic. Jewish law forbids one from remarrying his divorced wife if she married someone else after the first divorce. Abraham gives his new sons "gifts" (Gen.25:06) but gives Isaac "all that he had"(Gen. 25:05). The Talmud says that this means that Isaac received all of Abraham's spiritual possessions and all the rights of inheritance to lead the Hebrew family.

 

 

The Talmud says that Abraham dies with these Torah words to describe it: ''These are the days of the years." (Gen.25:07). The Mishna says there are those who are old, but without days. And there all those who have days, but are not old. Many of us add years to our lives without enriching our lives. We grow spiritually or intellectually to a certain age, and from that point on, we just add years. Abraham made each day count. Until the end, he lived his life to the fullest.

 

 He continued to do chesed and even fathered seven more sons. The Rambam (Maimonides of 11th Century Spain) writes that a Jew must perform at least one act of chesed each day in order for it even to be considered a day. Not one day was absent from Abraham's life. The Vilna Gaon of 18thCentury Lithuania reminds us that every day of our lives we must do a "chesbon ha nefesh," a daily accounting of our lives. This is to be done all year round, not only on the High Holy Days.

 

The parasha ends with the death of Ishmael at 137 years. His life span is broken up into three sections like Sarah's. The Totofot rabbis of 12th and 13th Century France and Germany say that Ishmael's years are given the same structure as Sarah's to show that his earlier sins were erased. His teshuvah (repentant return) was so sincere and so complete that his life was equal to an "unbroken chain of righteousness." During the High Holy Days we beat our chests and promise to change for the better. These verses help us to remember to keep the momentum going in our Jewish Spiritual Renewal, teshuvah, and our growth process.

Our Haftarah deals with half brothers who are also in line for succeeding their father. King David's oldest son Adonijah wants to be king, and plots to take over his father's throne. But Adonijah is a drunk and likes wild parties. Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba, David's wife, act quickly and convince David to name young prince Solomon to succeed David and to quash Adonijah's plans (I Kings 1:1-31). In the beginning of the Haftarah we find that King David has a high fever with severe chills and cannot get warm. They bring him a beautiful virgin to sleep with. He is not intimate with her.

"It is good to be the king." – Mel Brooks, 20th Century screenwriter.

 
We are all kings or queens of our domain. Like Ishmael, we can do full teshuvah, and like Rebecca, Sarah and Abraham, we can do acts of loving kindness that can provide water to our fellows' thirsty needs. We are a "kingdom of priests" and a "light to the nations." Let us strive to live our lives with days, and not to only just tack on years. Life is too precious a gift to waste on pettiness. There are too many Efrons and Labans in this world already. This Shabbat, when we call out to God in the Amidah and repeat the names of our ancestors, let us pray to allow ourselves to be themerciful and kind people we all know that we have the capacity to be.
 
 
Shabbat Shalom:
Rabbi Arthur Segal
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segalwww.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal www.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com 
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA

 

 

 

If  visiting SC's Low Country, contact us for a Shabbat meal, in our home by the  sea, our beth  yam.

 

Maker  of Shalom (Oseh Shalom) help make us deserving of Shalom beyond all human  comprehension! 

 

 

 
 
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segal www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewalwww.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com 
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA
 
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segal www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewalwww.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com 
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.com/books www.FaceBook.com/Arthur.L.Segal www.FaceBook.com/RabbiArthurSegalJewishSpiritualRenewal www.RabbiArthurSegal.blogspot.com
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Spirituality
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA