Torah Portion: Hayei Sarah (Sarah’s life) Genesis 23-25
HafTorah: I Kings 1:1-31
This week we look at a Parasha filled with verses covering the death of both Abraham and Sarah., yet it is titled, The life of Sarah. Why do you think that is? It might seem more accurate to call it the death of Sarah. This is a subject I want us to look at in some depth this week. I think it has so much to teach each of us in our world today.
To help us in our quest I want us to look at three verses, Genesis 18:11, 24:1 and 25:8. In 18:11 it says, “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age.” It would seem redundant to add the last four words. If they were old it goes without saying that they were well advanced in age. Torah is very sparing with words so when we see a phrase that seems like it is stating the obvious it is worthwhile to look deeper. Here the original Hebrew helps us greatly. If we look at the Hebrew words they are Ba’im Bayamim, which translated means, they entered in the days. What picture might this give you, rather than the English, “well advanced in age.” Remember we have talked about time before. Every moment is precious, a gift of G-d. So it follows that our use of time is important. This Hebrew phrase, “enter in the days,” carries that idea. It tells us that Abraham and Sarah entered each day connecting with each moment and embracing it. They were always “there,” whenever and wherever they were. So the last part of Genesis 18:11 tells us the manner in which they lived their years. Remember it was not all roses for them. They lived through hardships and trials yet even in those they embraced the moment for there was something to learn from it. I read a quote this week that I thought was great. It is about dealing with life. “Ignoring a moment’s call is to ignore the caller.” Saying that even in those difficult maybe even scary moments we must look and live them with our spirit attuned to what G-d is teaching us and telling us especially in the difficult times. This verse 18:11, tells us these two did just that. They entered each day looking for and expecting to see G-d’s hand in their life, to live our life in anticipation of what G-d is going to do today.
Even in those difficult days is to live as Sarah and Abraham. In Genesis 24:1 we see these words repeated again about Abraham. This was after he buried Sarah and time had passed. Yet even here he was still described as entering his days. Right to the end he was filled with expectations of what each day brought from G-d. Some time we become so busy with stuff, making a living, doing, that we forget to live and just to be at peace in what G-d does in our life each day. Passing time does not mean time lived. Every hour every second is heaven knocking on our door.
This idea carries over to my last question. Let’s look at two things that are tied to the promise of G-d in Chapter 12 of Genesis. G-d would give him the Land of Canaan and his descendants would be as the sand of the seashore. Now, think of Abraham’s life as we have just talked about – filled with troubles. But here in this verse it says Abraham was blessed in all things. How could that be? When Sarah dies at 127 years old Abraham does not even have a place to bury her and his only heir is Isaac. Yet G-d has promised him over and over that he would posses the land (see Genesis 13:14-17 for example) He was also promised heirs too numerous to count (Genesis 12:2, 13;16, 15:5 and 17:5) yet he only has one son. My point here is that sometimes the promises of G-d require us to do something to act.
So here in this Torah section we see Abraham taking action on both of these promises. First, he negotiates with Ephron of Hebron to buy a plot of land on which to bury his beloved. What is interesting is that this story is retold again in Genesis 49:29-32 in great detail. So this plot of land was the beginning or the seed of G-d’s promise. For Abraham that was enough. He was able to say he had been greatly blessed by G-d. The inheritance of the land had taken its first step.
After this purchase Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. He took action to insure that his descendants would be people who would finish the work of becoming as many as the stars in the sky. Abraham completely believed G-d and had faith in G-d’s promises. But he also saw that it required him to do something. He could not kick back and say well it’s G-d’s to do now. No, he realized that he was required to do something as are we. G-d has a promise for each of us but it takes us to be part of the fulfillment of that promise. So I pray that each of us enter each day to its fullest. We go into each moment anxious to see what the Father brings into our life. I pray we grasp those moments and promises and take action in doing our part in seeing the fulfilled.