Points to Ponder
Chayeii Sarah 5777
The days of Sarah were 100 and 20 and 7 years, these were the years of Sarah (23:1) – Rashi cites the Midrash that each segment of Sarah’s life was similar and then he adds that they were all equal in goodness. What does he add? How are years equal? Rav Amital Ztl. explained that a person must adapt his ways to the period in which he lives; he must not ignore what is around him and the processes going on outside. We find that the shekalim used to purchase the Temple sacrifices were raised each year anew; the money from last year could not be used for this year’s sacrifices. Every year is different. Our conduct must be up-to-date and suited to the times. This is perhaps the intention of the repeat. By noting that Sarah remained consistent we see that while she adapted to the times, she stayed internally consistent in the process.
And Avraham was old (24:1) – The commentaries note the juxtaposition between the establishment of Avraham’s age and the sending of Eliezer. Why? Kli Yakar suggests that that age is the reason why Avraham didn’t undertake this sacred mission himself. Rav Shimshon Dovid Pinkus ztl. adds that Avraham was the one who davened to Hashem to create old age experience in order to distinguish between him and Yitzchak. He was the first “old man”. Thus, the founder of old age was busy with regulating the path of gentrification and could not take the time to find a wife for Yitzchak.
Place your hand under my thigh (24:2) – The Gemara (Shavuos 38b) notes that for strong oaths that are biblical in nature, an oath has to be taken while holding a Cheifetz of significance. Rav Shteinman Shlita asked why the Bris was such a Cheifetz if, after all unlike a Tallis or a pair or Tefillin where it will be reused in Mitzva performance again, once the Bris is done, the place is no longer significant? He answered that since Mila stays with a person for the rest of his life, it is considered sacred all the time. This is why the Talmud (Menachos) notes that Dovid HaMelech was aware of Hashem’s presence even in the Mikvah because he was aware of his Bris.
And take a wife from there for my son for Yitzchak (24:4) – Why did Avraham insist on the long trip to search a wife? Why not find a girl from the families of Aner, Eshkol and Mamre? Why not from Eliezer who was the primary disciple and Teacher’s assistant to Avraham (Yoma 28b)? What was the great contribution of the bandits Besuel and Lavan? Rav Shaul Yisraeli Ztl. explains that when it comes to building a relationship, it is not the externals that make a difference. It is not where you come from that carries the weight in as much as it does not impact you positively. Avraham knew that the best source of a wife for Yitzchak would be one whose educational philosophy was not Arur – that had the basic element of Chesed at the core. This was not going to be found in the land of Canaan.
And she will say drink and also I will give your camels to drink (24:14) – The Mogen Avraham asks why this is not a violation of the principle that one may not eat until he gives his animal something to eat (Eisev L’Behemteicha V’Achata V’Savata)? He answers that there might be a difference between food and drink. Rav Schachter Shlita would often remind us that Rav Soloveitchik ztl. would differentiate between those who were home versus being a guest. A person in his home, must feed his animals first since he is a sinner and his animal is not. However one may not accuse a guest of being lower than an animal and so, cannot feed him on a lower level than the animal.
I am the servant of Avraham (24:34) – The Tiferes Shlomo of Radomsk ztl. explains that a person must always be aware of his lowly station in life, lest he become too haughty. This is why the higher levels of the Beis HaMikdash were not sanctified – the high areas lack the Shiflus and as such cannot be holy. Rav Baruch Simon Shlita added that the entire uniqueness and greatness of Eliezer does not come from his station or title but rather from his awareness of his goodness of fit –as the servant of Avraham.
These are the days of the years of Avraham that he lived (25:7) – It is interesting to note that we find this double language (Yimei Shnei) by the Avos and by Yishmael it only says Shnei – why? The Galia Meseches explains that for a Tzaddik who dedicates his entire life to Hashem, it is not only the years but every moment of those days that make up those years that are a dedication to Hashem. The Reshaim may do Mitzvos during their years on earth but the Tzaddikim live a Mitzva-filled life on top of it.
Haftorah: And Adoniah the son of Chagit raised himself up saying he will rule (Melachim I: 1:5) – Why did Adoniahu think he could take over while Dovid was still alive? Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl. explains that the process of succession in royalty is not determined merely by Yirusha rules. For if it were, the Bechor would automatically take over. Rather, rulership requires a sound mind. Adoniahu thought Dovid was no longer capable of ruling the people and thus prepared to fill the ruling seat until Dovid’s death when Shlomo would take over. Avraham too, passed the kingship of the Jewish nation over to Yitzchak even though he lived another 35 years. Once Yitzchak married, Rivka moved into the tent of Sarah – the White House – and assumed the leadership mantel.