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Pop Quiz: How many sons did Abraham have?


by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years." (Beresheet 23:1)

Our perashah gives us the sad news that Sarah passes away. She lived for one hundred and twenty seven years. However, the Torah breaks up these years into three groups: one hundred years, twenty years and seven years. Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch points out the words of our Sages as quoted by Rashi: These three numbers represent the three periods in the development of a human life - the ages of childhood, mature youth and complete old age. Sarah took the beauty of childhood with her into womanhood, and the innocence of the twenty year old girl with her into the grave.

Look how different the point of view of our Sages is compared to the opinion of the average man today. The Sages look for beauty not of the twenty year old, but of the child, and innocence not of the child but of the mature woman. The beauty of the child is pure and the one who admires her is unbiased by his passions. We are used to the term "childish innocence," but it would be sad if childhood would be enviable because of its innocence. Innocence assumes the possibility of guilt. To be not guilty implies that one had a struggle against one's passions and has conquered them. Only a girl matured to womanhood and the boy matured to manhood can wear the crown of innocence.

These ideas are indeed powerful. We must enjoy the pure beauty of things independent of our desires. Imagine driving your car on the highway on an autumn day. The trees are in the height of their beauty with bright reds and oranges. Are we glancing at this breathtaking beauty or are we busy analyzing the luxury cars passing by? We must learn to admire the truly innocent people, people who struggle with enormous pressure and maintain their innocence. How insightful are the words of our Sages. Shabbat Shalom.


by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Swear to me you will not take a Canaanite woman for my son" (Beresheet 24:2-3)

Abraham commanded Eliezer, his servant, to find a wife for Yitzhak, but not from the daughters of Canaan. He made him swear with G-d's Name that he would be faithful to his word. It is amazing to realize that Eliezer was the trusted servant of Abraham, who ran the entire household of Abraham and who was the one who faithfully transmitted all the teachings of Abraham to others. Yet when it came to finding a wife for Yitzhak, Abraham had to make Eliezer swear, and not just swear but also to use Hashem's Name in his oath.

The lesson to be derived is that when it comes to physical things, Abraham trusted Eliezer, but regarding something as important as a wife for Yitzhak, which will impact upon the future of the Jewish people, one must take any precaution possible.

When we enter business relationships or involve ourselves with any financial endeavors, we are super cautious to protect ourselves. How about if it involves verifying if something is kosher and permitted to eat, or whether one may or may not do something on Shabbat? Are we as concerned or cautious? Do we just "assume" since everyone is eating it or doing it? Seeing how Abraham put his priorities, maybe we should rearrange ours. Shabbat Shalom.


"And Sarah lived...and Sarah died." (Beresheet 23:1-2)

The perashah starts with the passing away of Sarah and her burial. Why then is the perashah called "Hayye Sarah" - the life of Sarah - and not "mitat Sarah" - the death of Sarah?

The concept that the name of the perashah is the first significant word of the perashah is inaccurate. For instance, the second perashah of the Torah is named "Noah" and the sixth perashah is called "Toledot." Parashat Noah starts with the words "These are the offspring of Noah." Parashat Toledot starts with the words "ovrct ic ejmh ,usku, vktu - these are the offspring of Yitzhak the son of Abraham." If the theory is correct, then the second perashah of Beresheet should be titled "Toledot" and the sixth called "Yitzhak."

Based on this, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the name of the perashah is not just arbitrary, but a one-word description of the essence and primary concepts discussed in the perashah. Thus, in the second perashah, though "Noah" is the third word, it became the name of the perashah because the entire perashah revolves primarily around the life of Noah. The sixth perashah is named "Toledot" because the entire perashah discusses Ya'akob and Esav, who were the "Toledot" - offspring - of Yitzhak.

"Hayye Sarah - the life of Sarah" - was focused on one goal and ideal, that Yitzhak should reach spiritual greatness. Our perashah discusses the life of Yitzhak, who was the realization of Sarah's spiritual dream. Though in this perashah we read of her demise and burial, through Yitzhak her ideals were fulfilled. Though physically Sarah was no longer here, she continued to live on through her son Yitzhak. In actuality, "Hayye Sarah" was the righteous life of Yitzhak. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to pop quiz: Eight.

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