Friday, November 25, 2016

Parshas Chayei Sara

This Week’s Parsha – Chayei Sara:

Now, with Hashem’s Help, let us get on to the parsha: The first passuk/verse is ‘Vayih’yu chayei Sara; meiah shana, vi’esrim shana, vi’sheva shanim; sh’nei chayei Sara/And it was the life of Sara; one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years, the years of the life of Sara.’ There are some things that need explaining here, and let us, with Hashem’s Help, begin to say over some Mefarshim/commentaries: 

1) Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Midrash Bereishis Rabbah, which explains that the phrasing of this verse teaches us that Sara Imeinu when 100 years old was as free of sin as a 20 year old, and when she was 20, she was as beautiful as a 7 year old.  Furthermore, Rashi HaKadosh himself says that this verse also teaches us that Sara Imeinu’s years were all equal in goodness. 

2) The Rebbe Reb Zusia of Anipole zt”l explains that ‘all of them were equal in goodness’ means that everything that happened to Sara Imeinu, she said ‘gam zu li’tovah/also this is for good.’  Meaning that she realized that since everything is from Hashem, it will all end up good.  HaRav Shalom Schwadron zt”l says a very similar thing.[1] 

3) What does it mean that Sara Imeinu when 20 years old, had the beauty of a 7 year old?  Says HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l:  A 7 year old does not use their beauty for leading others astray.  If they are beautiful, they don’t try to make others want to look at them, etc.  But rather, they have pure beauty.  So it was with Sara Imeinu, says Reb Moshe zt”l.  And all could see that her beauty was pure.[2] 

4) HaRav Aharon Soloveitchik zt”l also gives an answer to the above question about her beauty:  He explains that a 7 year old does not have gaava/haughtiness about their beauty.  She is not bragging about it usually, and again, it is pure beauty, and she is not haughty about it.  So it was with Sara Imeinu, says Reb Aharon zt”l.[3] 

5) The Chida (HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai zt”l) notes that the word ‘ויהיוּ’ is spelled the same both forward and backwards.  This teaches us, he explains, that whichever way Sara Imeinu’s life was going – forward or backwards; well or not so well, so to speak, she always remembered that everything was for the best.  This is very important for everyone to remember. [4]

6) The Klausenberger Rebbe (Rebbe Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam zt”l) explains that the repetition in this phrase ‘And it was the life of Sara...... the years of the life of Sara’ goes to teach us that she actually lived all the years of her life.  Meaning that, as we know, only serving Hashem is true life.  So Sara Imeinu actually lived – i.e. serve Hashem all her days.[5]  May we all have the merit to do so, Amein vi’Amein.

7) The Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita) quotes the “Rashi”, which we quoted above, and he uses it to explain how Sara Imeinu served Hashem: Rashi HaKadosh from the Midrash had said that when she was 100, she was like 20 (with regards to sin).  So he says that this teaches us that Sara Imeinu always served Hashem with youth, i.e. fire, passion, and energy.  However, he says, she also served Him with the wisdom of age.  This is very important for all of us to do. [6] May Hashem help everyone to do so, Amein vi’Amein. 

8) Okay; one more for right now:  The verse said ‘sh’nei chayei Sara/the years of the life of Sara.’ And the HaKsav V’HaKaballah (HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg zt”l) explains that ‘sh’nei/years’ can also mean ‘two’.  So he says that this teaches us that Sara Imeinu lived a double life, so to speak.  She used both her physical and her spiritual – both facets of herself.  She used her physical body to help her spiritual self serve Hashem[7] – which is what we must all try to do. 

Okay, now back to the parsha:  Avraham Avinu came to eulogize Sara and cry for her.  And he was going to buy a piece of land with a cave, and it was called Maaras Hamachpeilah. Ephron ben Tzochar the Chiti said at first that Avraham could have Maaras Hamachpeilah for free, but Avraham knew that if he didn’t buy it, we are told, the land would later be disputed whether it was his. So Avraham and Ephron agreed on 400 silver Shekalim.

The passuk/verse says ‘Oveir Lasocheir/in a negotiable currency’ which Gemara Bava Metzia explains to mean something that would be considered 400 Shekalim in every place. But in some places the Shekalim were big, so Avraham ended up paying 1,000,000 silver Shekalim, because that would, in some places, be considered 400 silver Shekalim.  And Avraham Avinu buried Sara Imeinu there – in Maaras Hamachpeilah. 

After that, the Torah talks about how Avraham was going to have Eliezer Damaseik search for a wife for Yitzchok, and he made him swear that he wouldn’t take a wife for Yitzchok from the Caananim, but that he should take the wife from Avraham’s brethren.

Eliezer Davened to Hashem that He would provide a sign for him, so he would know if it was the right girl or not.  The sign was that when he would ask for some water, she would say that she would even draw water for his camels.

He had just finished Davening when he saw Rivkah, and Hashem answered his prayer, and she did the exact thing that he Davened for.  He gave her a nose ring that weighed a beka, and he gave her 2 bracelets that weighed ten golden Shekalim.  

Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Midrash Bereishis Rabbah, which explains that the 2 bracelets allude to the Shnai Luchos HaBris/The Two Tablets of the Covenant, and the weight of it alludes to the Aseres HaDibros/Ten Commandments that were written on the Luchos/Tablets. Anyway, Rivkah told Eliezer who she was, and she ran to her mother to tell her.  

Rivkah’s brother was Lavan, and when he saw the jewelry that Eliezer had given her, he ran out to him, because he was greedy, and he thought that Eliezer must be rich (according to Rashi HaKadosh from Midrash Bereishis Rabbah). 
Lavan invited him in, and Eliezer told him and Bethuel the story behind why he was there, and Bethuel and Lavan said that the matter came from Hashem, so they couldn’t say anything about it; so they were okay with it.  Eliezer stayed the night with them, and he was going to leave the next day. Lavan and Rivkah’s mother wanted Rivkah to stay for a while, but Eliezer wanted her to go. 

They brought it to Rivkah, and asked her if she would go with Eliezer, and she said yes.  So she went.  And when she and Eliezer were coming back, they saw Yitzchok davening Minchah in the fields.  And we know that, according to Gemara Berachos, Avraham, Avinu instituted Shacharis, Yitzchok Avinu instituted Minchah, and Yaakov Avinu instituted Maariv.   Midrash Bereisheis Rabbah explains that Yitzchok was so involved in his Davening that Rivkah said “This is certainly a great man!” So she asked who was coming towards them.

Now, The Alter of Novhardok (HaRav Yosef Yozel Hurwitz zt”l) said that the quality of a person‘s prayer demonstrates their level of Mussar.[8]  Thus we see that Yitzchok Avinu was on a very high Mussar and spiritual level.  Rivkah and Yitzchok got married, and the Torah says that Yitzchok was comforted for [the loss of] his mother. 

Now we are beginning to move on to another Patriarch’s life, Baruch Hashem.  Anyway, the Torah lists in this parsha Avraham’s death.  He died at the age of 175 years old.  Though he actually died when Yaakov was 15, it is listed this way for a reason.  Also, the descendants of Yishmael are listed in this parsha, and Yishmael’s death is recorded. 

And Rashi HaKadosh quotes Rabbi Chiya bar Abba a”h who asked; why are the years of Yishmael counted?  And he answered that it was so we can trace through them the years of Yaakov Avinu, which shows us that Yaakov spent 14 years learning in Eiver’s Yeshivah. 
There are 105 pessukim/verses in this parsha.
Have a wonderful, wonderful Shabbos everyone!

Refoel Berel

[1] From  Shiur given by Reb Ari Mirzoeff shlita. 
[2] Stone Edition Chumash:  By HaRav Nosson Scherman shlita.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications Ltd©.
[3] From  Shiur given by HaRav Moshe N. Reichman shlita. 
[4] From Google Groups - Be'er Mayim Chaim.  Torah WellspringsCompiled by Rebbe Boruch Twersky shlita. 
[5] From Google Groups - Be'er Mayim Chaim.  Torah WellspringsCompiled by Rebbe Boruch Twersky shlita. 
[6] From  Parshas Chayei Sarah. 
[7] From  Shiur given by HaRav Moshe N. Reichman shlita.
[8] From Sparks of Mussar.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications Ltd.©

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