Points to Ponder
Chayeii Sarah 5775
And the life of Sarah was 127 years – the years of Sarah’s life (23:1) - The Midrash comments that in her life, her years were complete and full. Rav Chaim Cohen Shlita (HaChalban) explains that although the limitation of time should define life as devoid of Nitzchiyus, when a Tzaddik lives, s/he lives so completely and fully that it rises above time. The limits of physical life quickly give way to an eternal Nitzchiyus that transcends the boundaries of time. Thus, the life of Sarah was Shnei Chayeii Sarah, in this world and the next she was complete and full.
Efron was sitting among the Bnei Cheit (23:10) – Rashi explains that he was appointed Dayan over them on that very day. Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriah ztl. asked why Avraham was so insistent on not taking a wife from the daughters of Chet even after they had demonstrated such kindness to him in the beginning of the Parsha? He answered that from Rashi’s comment about Efron we learn a lot about the people of Chet. The people are judged on the basis of what they value and therefore whom they choose to lead them. When Avraham saw that Efron was outwardly a nice person but internally interested in money alone, he saw that this was a staple idea of his people – wholly inconsistent with the Avraham way of living.
Don’t take a wife for my son from the daughters of Canaan – Why was Avraham so concerned about this? One might argue that Avraham was worried that the daughter in law would be unduly influenced by the character traits displayed in her in-laws home. What then was gained by finding Rivka in a home where a Besuel (or a Besuel’s wife acc. To Rav Hirsch) and a Lavan served idols? Why would that be better than the poor middos of Canaan? Rav Asher Weiss Shlita quotes the Kli Yakar who notes that the sins of Besuel’s home were based on intellectual failings. The sins of the Canaanites were in their characterelogical makeup. The former can be corrected when living in a home where ideas can be challenged and truth discovered. But changing bad middos is much more difficult as they become more entrenched in the person’s upbringing and makeup.
And she will say drink and I’ll also give your camels to drink (24:14) - Why did Rivkah think it was ok to give Eliezer water to drink before having him feed his camels. Isn’t one first supposed to give the animals to eat and drink before s/he does? Rav Schachter Shlita quoted Rav Soloveitchik ztl. who used to say that the reason why animals go first is that they never sinned. Man sinned, thus he needs to work in order to earn his daily bread – but the animals did not. Therefore when man must choose who comes first, the one who did not sin should precede he who did. However, when one is honoring a guest, one does not have a right to call the guest a sinner. Thus Rivka was correct in choosing to feed Eliezer first and thereafter his camels.
And it was when the camels finished drinking that the man took a nose ring (24:22) – Why did Eliezer wait until the camels finished drinking before rewarding Rivka for her Chessed? Rav Shimshon Dovid Pinkus Shlita quotes the Sforno who said Eliezer wanted to see if she was going to charge for her Chessed. Even if she was only fishing for a compliment, it would have been a cause for some pause. However, Rivka merely turned in order to leave. To her, doing chessed was to be expected and didn’t require a compliment.
And Yitzchak came from the Be’er L’Chai Roee in the south (24:62) - Rashi explains that he was coming to bring Hagar back to Avraham so he could remarry her. However, prior to this, Rashi had explained that Hagar had returned to her father’s idols. If that were the case, how did Avraham dare remarry her? Rav Shlomo Wolbe ztl. answers that she never actually returned to Avodah Zara. After all she was known as Keturah since her activities were as blessed as Ketores. Rather, the Torah castigates Hagar’s immediate thought that she might return to her father. That thought alone gets her the castigation even though she overcame it. Rav Wolbe adds that there is danger in learning Chumash to assume that the great ones were small minded and simple. The simple text does not suffice in the examination of Hagar’s supposed idol worship.
And Yitzchak brought her to his mother’s tent and he married Rivka and he loved her (24:67) – After all the miracles, why did Yitzchak need to bring Rivka into the tent before deciding to marry her? The Brisker Rav ztl. explains that even after seeing miracles, one needs to know whether a person is a good person before deciding to marry him/her.
Haftorah – And his father never admonished him saying why did you do this (Melachim I: 1:6) – The Ralbag and Metzudos Dovid both explain that Adoniahu thought he should be king because his father never admonished him EVER. That is, that he never heard his father tell him that he did anything wrong. Thus, he assumed that whatever he was doing was consistent with Yiras Shomayim always, and as such was worthy of the Meluchah. Rav C.Y. Goldvicht ztl. pointed out often that a Melech has to be able to understand the people well, including their imperfections and thus cannot ever be totally perfect.