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Parasha of the week

Chayei Sarah

Sarah died in Kiryat Arba (23:2)

How was Abraham capable of nearly sacrificing his son, whereas Sarah died upon merely hearing about such a possibility?  How could the very same event catapult Abraham and Isaac to such spiritual heights while having such a negative effect on Sarah?

The answer lies in the fact that whereas Abraham was somewhat detached from the mundane world, viewing things from their abstract, spiritual perspective, Sarah was focused on integrating Divine spirituality into the mundane world.  So while Abraham could face the prospect of Isaac’s death with calmness, even though it would spell the end of their Divine mission, Sarah could not.  The thought of Isaac’s death opposed her very life, and so she died.

Abraham’s apparent lack of “female” sensitivity and Sarah’s apparent lack of “male” objectivity teach us that each of us should ideally strive to combine balance these perspectives in our own lives.

With all his master’s bounty in his hand (24:10)

Even though Isaac was already forty years old at the time, Abraham nevertheless displayed no hesitation in going to all extremes for his son’s benefit, for he knew that his parental role never ends.  There is no age limit to the parent-child bond.  Of course, there comes a point where our children must take responsibility for their own lives.  But even then, as parents, we remain obligated to be involved in their lives, guiding and helping them in whatever ways possible.

Isaac went out to pray in the field toward evening (24:63)

We recite the morning prayer before beginning our workday and the evening prayer after completing our day’s activities.  In contrast, the afternoon prayer requires us to stop in the midst of our mundane affairs and focus on G-d.

Our daily, mundane affairs are symbolised by the “field”, the area outside the city limits, which is untamed and uncultivated.  Through instituting the afternoon prayer, Isaac transformed “the field” into a place of prayer to G-d.

The morning prayer undeniably serves as our principal daily renewal of Divine consciousness.  Nonetheless, afterwards, it remains to be seen how we will fare when we go out into “the field”.  Will the secular and material influences of “the field” cause us to lose the spiritual awareness and closeness to G-d that we achieved during the morning prayer?  By stopping in the middle of our mundane affairs in order to recite the afternoon prayer, we demonstrate that our involvement in material affairs does not separate us from G-d.


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