Torah Tidbits

Where Heaven and Earth Meetheadshot white 2015cropped

Shabbat Parashat Cha-yay Sarah

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

November 7, 2015 – 25 Cheshvan 5776

Dear Friends,

As we prepare to mark Veterans’ Day, this coming week, we salute our veterans. We acknowledge, with thanks, their service and their sacrifices on behalf of all of us. As we listen to the news and see the current unrest and challenges still facing us at home and abroad, we are keenly aware of the important role our veterans played in allowing us to live as we do and to enjoy the freedoms that we so cherish.

Focusing on Israel, we note that much of the unrest in Israel in the past few weeks has been in and around the city of Hebron. This city is mentioned in our weekly Torah portion. It is here that the Cave of Machpelah [double] was/is located: the cave which Abraham purchased for full price from Ephron, the Hittite; the cave that Abraham used as a burial site for his beloved wife, Sarah.

Interestingly, Jewish tradition teaches us that Adam and Eve were already buried in Machpelah well before Abraham decided to purchased the cave. Our Sages taught us that this ancient cave was considered to be the “petach” [entrance/doorway/connection], the nexus, of heaven and earth. And, this tradition is supported by the fact that Machpelah is/was located in the vicinity of Hebron, which in Hebrew, means: “connection!”

Abraham purchased Machpelah in the material sense, with the purchase price, with money. However, according to our ancient tradition, Sarah “earned” and merited being buried there by virtue of the way in which she lived her life. Midrash teaches us that in her lifetime, Sarah was a spiritual giant. We are taught that she had greater powers of prophecy than Abraham (Midrash Tanchuma Parashat Shemot, Parasha Aleph, Siman Aleph)!

Three miracles were associated with Sarah’s life:

First, her Shabbat candles continued burning from one Friday evening until the following Friday. This meant that the aura of Shabbat that she created by lighting the Shabbat candles, permeated the entire week!

Second, there was a blessing in her dough (in the food she prepared). This meant that she imbued holiness and blessing in the preparation of food, and in its consumption!

And, third, a cloud of God’s presence rested upon her tent, as long as she lived. This meant that Sarah lived in an awareness of God’s presence all her life!

By virtue of these gifts, Sarah merited being buried at the place where, according to ancient Jewish tradition, heaven and earth meet.

These teachings are reflected in our prayers as we add our matriarch Sarah’s name to our Amidah prayers alongside our mention of our Patriarch, Abraham.

May Sarah’s amazing spiritual legacy bring us well-being and blessing. May we, too, enjoy the lingering beauty of Shabbat even during the rest of the days of the week; the spirituality and holiness of preparing and of consuming kosher food; and the inspiring sense of God’s caring presence in our lives, for all our days!

And, may Machpelah and Hebron, the nexus of heaven and earth, inspire people of all faiths to fulfill their potential for connection, for inner peace, and for lasting “shalom”.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

P.S. This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Kislev. Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday of this coming week. May it be a month of great joy, of great light, and of great celebration!