Saturday, November 15, 2014

From Avraham to Yitzchak

Today’s parsha Chayei Sara ends an era that is very dear to us all – the era of Avraham and Sara. We women of COUNT THE STARS have lived with Avraham and Sara for many months (Avital and I, B”H, for more than a year). Our first matriarch and patriarch are very beloved by us all.
This week, we welcome the new generation of Jewish leadership – Yitzchak and Rivka. We also see many connections to the previous parshiyot with which we are so immersed.
Avraham sent his trusted servant Eliezer to his old home to find a wife for Yitzchak, a wife with the qualities of the Abrahamic family – kindness, chesed (Rivka’s chesed to Eliezer and his camels is legendary) and a recognition of Hashem as G-d. Even Lavan (whom we know is NOT a good-guy) calls Eliezer, “Blessed of Hashem” and agrees that the shiddach between Yitzchak and Rivka “stems from Hashem.”
B”H, Rivka agrees to accompany Eliezer back to Canaan, and they travel to Yitzchak’s encampment.
“Now Yitzchak came from having gone to Beer-lachai-roi, for he dwelt in the south.” Remember that place – where Hagar met the angels for the first time. Sforno writes that this is the place where “Hagar’s prayer had once been answered, and it was there that Yitachak had gone to pray.” Of course, Hashem answered his prayers immediately, because he looked up and ta da da da (triumphant music), there was Rivka his bride.
Rasha says that Yitzchak had gone to Beer-lachai-roi to bring back Hagar to remarry his father. “This follows the tradition that Keturah, Avraham’s second wife was Hagar.”
It even states that after Avraham’s death, Hashem blessed Yitzchak his son, “and Yitzchak settled near Beer-lechai roi”. Isn’t it amazing that Yitzchak understood the holiness of the place - a place worthy of angels - and did not shy away from it, even though this was where Hagar was blessed with a son, Ishmael, “a wild-ass of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him.”
Lastly, the parsha enumerates the descendants of Ishmael. Ishmael is called “Avraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Avraham.” Yes, he was the son of his wife’s maidservant, but Avraham still looked upon him as a son. When each of Ishmael’s children is named, Rashi explains that here we see that Hashem’s blessing to Hagar at the well was fulfilled, “over his brothers he’ll dwell.” “Ishmael’s descendants would be so numerous that they would have to expand beyond their own borders into those of their brothers.”
We begin the parsha with the death of our beloved matriarch Sara at age 127, and conclude the parsha with the end of the Avraham era (even though he didn’t really die here)  when he was 175 years old. “And Avraham expired and died at a good old age, mature and content, and he was gathered to his people. His sons Yitzchak and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah….”
B”H, Avraham attained a long long life, and eventually one of contentment. Then, his sons, different as they were, and fated with totally different destinies, stood together to bury their father. In fact, Rashi said that Ishmael gave precedence to his younger brother – “and we infer that he repented.”
May Hashem bless our people always. May we have nachas from our children. May we see Hashem’s blessings to Avraham come true fully – “to your seed I will give this land.”


Photos by Bati Katz.

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