Torah portion: Lingering hopes


Rabbi Lisa Edwards provides the Torah commentary for Chayei Sarah in this week’s Jewish Journal. Read it here:

Parashat Chayei Sarah comes to us again this year in a time of wistfulness and worry, arriving as hostilities in Jerusalem and Hebron heat up. One would be hard-pressed to guess from the gentle stories told in Chayei Sarah of the deaths and burials of Sarah, Abraham and Ishmael that the site of their entombment in modern Hebron would eventually yield such conflict.

These few chapters of Genesis contain profound moments that stay with us emotionally and historically:

• Abraham crying over the lifeless body of his beloved wife, Sarah, dead at age 127: “Abraham came to weep for Sarah and to bewail her” (lispod l’Sarah v’livkotah).

• Abraham negotiating to buy the cave of Machpelah: “Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there. … And then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre — now Hebron — in the land of Canaan.”

• Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac: “Go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

• The servant’s fervent prayer: “O God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day.”

• Rebekah watering the servant’s camels, fulfilling the servant’s premonition and prayer for the right wife for Isaac.

• Rebekah, asked by her brother and mother, Eileiha hateilkhi im-ha-ish ha-zeh, “Will you go with this man?” — a man she did not know, to a place she did not know, echoing Abraham and Sarah’s journey decades before.

• Rebekah’s simple reply, Eilech, “I will go.”

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