Questions and Concepts for Parsha Chayei Sarah
(Genesis 23:1-25:18)

1. The name of the Parsha is "the life of Sarah," yet we immediately encounter the account of her death. There is an old Hebrew saying that states, "The righteous in death are considered alive." Yeshua alluded to this (i.e., resurrection) when he spoke of God as being the "God of the living" - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

2. Abraham and Sarah are the first husband-wife team to have made an impact for God. Just as Adam and Even caused division by "separating" the fruit from the tree, Abraham and Sarah brought unity - as prophets of God - uniting above and below through God's Torah. God is thus referred to in 24:3 as, "God of heaven and God of the earth" (i.e., from man's perspective due to the actions of Abraham and Sarah.)

3. In 23:4 Abraham calls himself "an immigrant and a resident." This seems to be a contradiction in terms. It is taught that the ever-polite Abraham was sending a message to Hittites he was speaking to. He would agree to purchase a burial place for Sarah (as an immigrant would) if they agreed. If they did not, he would claim the land that God gave to him.

4. King Solomon composed "Aishes Chayil" (Woman of Valor - from Proverbs 31), which is sung in Jewish homes each Friday nights, with Sarah in mind. What is the real meaning of "a woman of valor?" As one Torah teacher states:

This is what makes a true Aishes Chayil, of whom Shlomo HaMelech wrote. She possesses the ability, above all else, to transform her non-spiritual reality into one of tremendous spirituality, even when all the surrounding elements are working against her.

The above is especially true of the wife's effect on her husband. Through her actions (grounded in Torah) a woman can increase her husband's spiritual insight/ability.

5. In 24:31, Lavan informs Eliezer that he has "cleaned out the house" for him. Rebecca had already told Eliezer that there was room ready in the house. It is taught that what Laban cleaned out, was the idols, which he knew Eliezer would find objectionable. Although Laban may have had greedy motives, it is interesting to note how those who recognize people of God at times modify their own behavior - thus inadvertantly bringing more opportunity for God's light to shine in their own lives.

Consider this:
Though both Abraham and Isaac were very righteous men, neither merited having the 12 tribes born to them. Abraham was very merciful, perhaps too much so, and lacked the ability to judge and set limits. Abraham was thus given Sarah, a wife with just the right amount of "justice" to balance him. Isaac was the opposite (of Abraham), he is said to have been from the "side of strictness" (i.e., never leaving the land in his life, the limitations placed on what tribes he could marry from, his role in the Akeida, etc.) Isaac was therefore given a wife who was as kind as Abraham - Rebecca - in order to balance him. The honor of being father to the 12 tribes was given to Jacob (later named "Israel" by God) who had the right "mix" of Abraham and Isaac's qualities.. Thus the descendants promised to Abraham have come to be called "the children of Israel" (Jacob).