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Parshat Chayei Sarah

By: SFW Students & Alumna
Miri Saphire-Bernstein, SFW 5765-66

Why does the Torah tell a long story about Sarah's death? We could have had a simpler storyline: Sarah dies, Avraham buys the cave and buries her. Instead, we have a long detailed bargaining process. Why?

The Chizkuni says that it's not the way of the Torah to tell us about the death of a woman if it doesn't tie into some other major thread. The reason we learn of Sarah's death is to show us how Avraham had to pay a lot of money for me'arat hamchpeila and he didn't question or complain about it. According to the Chizkuni this was one of the ten nisyonot.

But why is the fact that Avraham had to haggle over the price of a field a nisayon? Avraham says "ger vitoshav anochi imachem,” I am a stranger among you (23:4).  Yet this was the land that G-d has already promised to him. And despite the fact that G-d has promised the land to Avraham, he is still a stranger, and has to haggle and fight for every piece of his own land that he can get. But Avraham doesn't complain, doesn't question, and doesn't demand miracles. He accepts the situation for what it is, does his part in acquiring land and leaves the rest up to G-d.  It's the perfect display of hishtadlut and bitachon.

This is a theme repeated later in the parsha in the search for a wife for Yitzchak. The parallel is strengthened further when one notes that Avraham's hishtadlut and bitachon is manifested as he is burying his wife. Perhaps then, when he demonstrates these qualities again, while looking for wife for his son, he is sending a message to Yitzchak about the important characteristics needed for a good zivug: chessed, hishtadlut, and bitachon.

Eliezer employs the hishtadlut-bitachon partnership in his search for Rivka. The hishtadlut is in his traveling to find her; the bitachon is in his trust that G-d will send him signs about the right girl.  These signs are all focused on a display of chessed, which Rivka personifies perfectly. The parallels seem instructional. And it would therefore seem that the details surrounding Sarah’s death are crucial both to tell us about one of Avraham's nisyonot and because it is a fundamental piece of the next phase of the story of the Jewish people as it leads us into the story of Rivka.


Shabbat Shalom.


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Chayei Sarah