Image: Hebron. The Tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah are in caves beneath the large building at the lower left. Photo by See The Holy Land via Wikimedia. Some rights reserved.
This week’s Torah portion is Chayei Sarah, “The Life of Sarah.” While the portion is named in the usual way (with the first distinctive words in the portion,) in this case it is ironic, for the first thing that happens in the portion is the death of Sarah, Abraham’s wife and our first matriarch.
In this portion, Abraham negotiates to buy a burial place for Sarah, and then sends his servant to negotiate a wife for Isaac. One of the striking things in the portion is that Isaac’s role in his own marriage is passive (Abraham sends a servant to find Isaac a wife,) Rebekah is a much more active participant, deciding the timing of her departure from her father’s tent.
The portion concludes with a brief look into the life of Ishmael, the other son of Abraham. He has 12 sons who will become chieftains of 12 tribes, stretching from Havilah, near Egypt, to Asshur (Mesopotamia.) We know them today as the Arabs.
Our divrei Torah this week:
The Crown of Aging – Rabbi Marc Katz
On Death and Land – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
The Blessed Burden – Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Getting On With Life – Rabbi Don Levy
Plan Ahead! – Rabbi Jordan Parr
Sarah – Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
Rebekah, Woman of Contradictions – Rabbi Ruth Adar