NOVEMBER 18-19, 2011 22 HESHVAN 5772
“And Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her.” (Beresheet 23:2)
The perashah begins with a sorrowful event, the passing of our matriarch Sarah. The Midrash comments that when the Torah says that “Abraham came,” it means he came from the mountain of Moriah after the test of the sacrifice of Yitzhak. Her passing occurred when she heard that Yitzhak was almost slaughtered. When the pasuk says “Abraham came,” it doesn’t only mean that he physically came from there, but it also is a hint of the subject of the eulogy Abraham gave. He came, meaning, his approach to the eulogy was that her greatness was that she brought up a son who happily went to be potentially slaughtered for a sacrifice to Hashem. This was a great accomplishment on the part of Sarah. Upon reaching this great level of accomplishment, she attained her goal in life and therefore left this world.
The Hafess Hayim brings us an amazing story on this subject. It is stated in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 1:1) that Rabbi Tarfon became very ill. When the great Rabbis came to visit, his mother cried to them that they must pray for him. She began describing to them the amazing extent he went to observe the misvah of honoring her, his mother. Once her shoe strap broke while she was walking outside. He bent down and made her walk on his hands in order that her feet wouldn’t get dirty. Also, one time the small ladder she used to climb onto her bed broke, so he bent down so she could climb on him to get onto the bed! The Rabbis responded that if this is all he did he didn’t reach even halfway what the Torah requires of him!
Their comment was very strange; after all, at this time it would seem right to praise Rabbi Tarfon’s great level in order to build up his great merit to come forth and save his life. Instead they belittled his level and said it was not so great?
The answer is that every person comes to this world to attain a certain goal in spirituality. Once the person has success and reaches those goals, he goes up to heaven to receive his rewards in the Next World. At the moment the Rabbis heard his amazing performance in honoring his mother, they were afraid that that was the reason why he was about to leave the world and he would not become healed from his illness. Therefore they belittled his deeds and were making a statement that he needs to get well in order to continue to attain higher levels of honoring his mother which will take many years! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
“For [Hagar] said, ‘Let me not see the death of the child’” (Beresheet 21:16)
Hagar moved away from her son, Yishmael, when he was dying of thirst because, as she said, “I can’t bear to see him in this state.” One of the commentators points out that although this may be acceptable for Hagar, it is not an attribute for a Jewish mother. Even when things are as difficult to cope with as someone in extreme thirst, a mother stays by her child to see what can be done.
We must apply this to most of life’s situations, not only the dangerous ones. It may be more pleasant for a parent not to know when a child is doing something wrong, rather than confront the child and face the problem. This is not the way of life for a Jewish parent. One must be involved in his child’s upbringing, and if anything needs correcting, one must face the situation directly. It may be unpleasant but it is the only way that will yield positive results in our children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
“Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her”. (Beresheet 23:2)
Rashi comments that the death of Sara is juxtaposed onto the story of Akedat Yitzhak because our Matriarch's death was connected with the Akedah. In an attempt to frighten Sarah, Satan told her the news that Abraham was about to slaughter Yitzhak. Before she could hear that nothing had yet transpired and, Yitzchak was still alive, her soul flew from her body and she died. Clearly, it was Sarah's time to leave the world. It just so happened that this designated time coincided with the Akedah. This does not prevent people from laying blame, harm, and second-guessing their decisions. "If only I would have - or would not have - done this, then he would be alive;" "If only Abraham would not have taken Yitzhak to the Akedah…" Life is replete with "what ifs." This is the normal reaction of people to tragedy, to the unknown. It is so much easier to blame someone, or even oneself, than to concede that what occurred was destined according to Hashem's decree.
In his sefer, Dudaei Yitzhak, Horav David Nebentzhal, zl, writes that the above juxtaposition, which connects Sarah's death with Abraham's ready acquiescence to slaughter Yitzchak, teaches us a powerful lesson concerning Abraham's righteousness and unequivocal faith in the Almighty. According to Rashi, Sarah died as a result of hearing the news that Yitzhak was about to be killed - not killed yet - but about to be killed. It was sufficient to frighten her literally to death. This indicates the incredible love that our Matriarch manifested for her only child. They were inseparable. The thought of something bad happening to Yitzhak was enough to kill Sarah.
Undoubtedly, Abraham was fully aware of his wife's love for their son. This verity must have been weighing heavily on his mind as he traveled to the site of the Akedah. He was acutely aware that the Akedah would net two victims: Yitzhak and Sarah. Abraham would be responsible for both of their deaths. Yet, despite all of this, Abraham readily accepted Hashem's command and proceeded on to the Akeidah.
Furthermore, if Sarah had lived, Abraham could always hope that Hashem would bless them with another son - sort of a "replacement." With Sarah's death, however, everything - all avenues of hope for progeny - came to a complete halt. He no longer harbored any hope. No Yitzhak, no Sarah, no future Klal Yisrael. Abraham's present mission meant putting an end to Klal Yisrael. Nonetheless, Abraham's conviction was unshakeable. He forged on in his quest to perform the word of G-d.
Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, takes this idea a bit further. Let us picture Abraham following the Akedah. He had successfully negotiated the emunah issues and challenges that the Akedah had presented. Satan's challenges were quite difficult, but he emerged triumphant - and this is how he was returning home. He was a hero. He bested Satan. As he neared his home, he heard cries, weeping and other manifestations of grief and mourning. He then realized the terrible tragedy that had struck him. Yitzhak was alive - but Sarah, his life's partner, was dead. Can we imagine what must have been going through our Patriarch's mind? Certainly, he had questions. Is this the way one who shows faith at its apex should be rewarded? To succeed at the Akedah, only to bury Sarah - is that success? Is that reward?
One would not be taken aback if Abraham's reaction to this devastating tragedy would have been "slightly" negative. At least, he would have had some serious questions. Indeed, even Satan accused him of "causing Sarah's premature death." This was Satan speaking after the fact, in an attempt to detract from the success of the Akedah. Perhaps, Abraham would regret his conviction, be rueful of his commitment.
Not Abraham Abinu! Our Patriarch stood firm and resolute; with fortitude and mettle, he repulsed all obstacles and challenges. He understood that all that Hashem does is good. Thus, Sarah's death at the time that it occurred, under that set of circumstances, was an act of G-d and, therefore, inherently good. True, he could neither see the good nor understand it, but his conviction remained strong and unshakeable.
This is why the Torah emphasizes that Abraham "rose up from the presence of his dead." The father of emunah in Hashem rose above all those who would take him down to disbelief in Hashem. He distanced himself from any form of negativity, knowing fully well that Sarah's designated time of death had arrived. It just happened to coincide with the Akedah. (Peninim on the Torah)
“And Hashem blessed Abraham with everything.” (Beresheet 24:1)
The simple meaning of this pasuk is that Abraham sensed Hashem’s blessing in everything that he owned. There are people who are wealthy, but who derive no blessing from their fortune since they have neither satisfaction nor enjoyment from their possessions. They are driven by an unquenchable desire to acquire yet a greater fortune. Abraham, was blessed with all that he possessed precisely because he sensed Hashem’s blessing in everything, never longing for anything.
Regarding the pasuk in Tehillim (34:10), “Those who seek Hashem will not lack any good,” the Shl”a notes that the implication of this pasuk is not that they will have everything, but rather that they will not sense a need for anything because they will be blessed by Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)
Time management is a skill that you are not born with – it must be learned. Life Coach Avi Shulman tells about an interesting demonstration that he saw at a time-management training session. The instructor poured a pile of everyday items onto a table: cassettes, books, shampoos and cosmetics, articles of clothing, and small appliances. He then began to fill a suitcase with all the items on the table, but after a few items were put in, the case was full and most of the “stuff” was still on the table.
The instructor then started over by categorizing. Certain items could be combined, others could be eliminated, and others could be sent another way or at another time. The instructor then packed the most important items first, and the next most important followed, until the case was full. After all was said and done, some of the less important items were still left on the table.
The lesson is clear. The twenty-four hours in the day have the same finite limits as the suitcase. Just as there is a physical limit as to how much can be packed into a given space, so, to, there is only so much that can be done in a day. The trick is to identify priorities and to do them first before going on to the next task.
When you start your day, don’t get overwhelmed by all that you think you must accomplish. List your tasks and then prioritize. List the most important items first. Prioritizing may take only a few minutes, but it will help you succeed in getting to the items that are most important to making your day successful. (One Minute With Yourself – Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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