Parashat Chayei Sarah: After my death

Say this when you mourn for me:
There was a man- and look, he is no more.
He died before his time.
The music of his life suddenly stopped.
A pity! There was another song in him.
Now it is lost
forever. . .
                                              (“After My Death,” by Chaim Nachman Bialik )

2016-10-03-22-03-22How often do we find ourselves standing at the graveside of one “taken from our midst too young” and feeling the pain of such sentiments. Life is so fragile, so precious, so easily lost forever, and we are prone to taking it for granted until it is too late. We know better, yet we seem unable to refocus our attention upon what matters most. Our sadness in the face of such deaths is rooted not merely in the pain of loss, but also in the fact that one taken by death too soon is unable to complete his work, to fulfill her potential, to live life fully.

Rabbi Aaron Panken reminds us that the lament of Bialik’s sad and mournful poetry need not be the eulogy for any human life, regardless of the number of years. The wisdom of our Jewish tradition holds Abraham up as a standard of a life well-lived. Abraham’s life was not merely long; his days and years were also full of meaning and purpose, kindness to others, and devotion to God. Although they were not perfect by any means, Abraham and Sarah lived every day of their lives, our Rabbis teach. They never missed an opportunity to make a difference. And neither must we.

“Life is not made of years, but of moments,” Elie Wiesel said (Lehigh University commencement, May 24, 1010). Far more important than counting our years is making our moments count.

May this be our blessing.

 Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell

(Source: Rabbi Jim Bennett) 

Torah Reading for Chayei Sarah

Genesis 23:1-25:18 (Gen 24:1-26) – Plaut p. 156; Hertz p. 82

Haftarah: Kings 1:1-31 – Plaut p.169; Hertz 90

In our Parasha

  • Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah, in order to bury his wife Sarah.

  • Later Abraham sends his servant to find a bride for Isaac.

  • Rebekah, the future bride, shows her kindness by offering to draw water for the servant’s camels at the well.

  • The servant meets Rebekah’s family and then takes Rebekah to Isaac, who marries her.

  • Abraham takes another wife, named Keturah. At the age of one hundred and seventy-five years, Abraham dies, and Isaac and Ishmael bury him in the cave of Machpelah.

Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or:

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