Torah Portion: Hayei Sarah (Sarah’s Life) B’resheet (Genesis) 23-25
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 1:1-31
Tonight we read a Torah portion dealing with death in that the passing of both Sarah and Avraham are covered. However, we also read of the purchase of the first plot of the land of Promise and of the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. These sequences of events bring up a question that each of us must deal with in our life. To help us I would like to look at the life of Avraham and see how he dealt with what could have been crippling disappointment.
When we reflect on his life we see a man called by G-d to move out of his homeland to what was called a land that G-d would show him and grant to him and his descendants as an eternal inheritance. He was also told by G-d that his descendants would be as the sands of the sea in number. Yet here in our portion we see a man of 137 years old coming to bury his wife in Caanan among the Hittites. He had to bargain to even buy a place to bury her. He did not own a single piece of the Land of Promise. We can add to that, the events of last week’s portion where he was called to sacrifice his only son Isaac and was on the verge of doing that when G-d stayed his hand. What did he do? How did he carry on after losing his wife and having to negotiate with pagans for a burial plot. What would we have done? How would we have reacted?
According to our verses today he set about securing a place to bury his wife. He mourned for her and then what did he do? He started immediately searching for a wife for his son Isaac. In Genesis 24:3 we read an amazing sentence, “Then Avraham rose up.” From this point on Avraham is engaged in a flurry of activity. He had two goals in his mind, first to find a place to bury Sarah and then to find a wife for Isaac his son. Yu might notice that these two actions were tied directly to the promise of G-d to him years before. He was promised land and descendants. Avraham took action. He knew that he had a vital part to play in G-d’s plan. G-d had given him a promise years before and here was the opportunity to fulfill that dream, that call on his life. Avraham knew his part at this time of his life was to build a future, not to be crippled by what had been but to look forward to what could be. There is a time to mourn but he did not allow that to hold him back from G-d’s promise. He rose up and went on.
In the past few weeks we have read of at least two people who could not move on. Lot’s wife looked back. She could not let go so in some ways she was held captive by her loss. Noah was another person who could not go on instead, after emerging from the ark, he planted a vineyard and got drunk.
My point to all this is that each of us, no matter where we are in age or location, have a call on our life that only we can do. We are not here by accident but for a future and a promise. G-d speaks to each of us about what our future in His is to be. We must be able to hear Him. When we hear that still small voice G-d wants us to take a step forward fulfilling that call, that future. Don’t let fear, grief or anger hold you back but take that step to go to your own promised land. There is a time to mourn but don’t get stuck in it. Don’t allow it to cripple you.
Linked to our mission, our call, is one universal trait that G-d expects all His children to possess. It is a trait that seems to be in short supply in the world today. When we read the story, in Genesis 24, of the servant of Avraham sent on a mission to find a wife for Isaac we can catch a glimpse of this attribute that G-d looks for in each of us. In verses 30-32 we read where the servant was invited to come to the tent of Rebekah and her family. Then in the middle of this exciting story of the future of the Jewish people we read where the servant first took care of his fellow travelers and even the camels. Pretty amazing! Why would Torah take the time and space to tell us he fed the camels? I think it hints at a quality we see over and over throughout scripture. G-d expects us, as a part of our life, to be kind and compassionate as an on-going part of who we are. When we are involved with people or in this case, even animals, kindness is something that should permeate our lives. We see this throughout scripture. In the Messianic scripture Yeshua stresses this over and over. Our life’s mission is never to take precedent over who we are as people living in the world. That kindness should be a natural part of our life when we relate to the world. The words we speak and how we act must always be filtered by kindness. G-d bless us all as we walk the path the Father has for us.