What Was Isaac Doing in the Field?

What Was Isaac Doing in the Field?

Oct 29, 2021 By Jason Rogoff | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

The patriarch Isaac is one of the most passive biblical characters. He speaks infrequently and seems to stand still while other people feverishly act around him. His presence in Parashat Hayyei Sarah is no exception. After surviving the ordeal of the Akedah, and experiencing the death of his mother, Isaac is nowhere to be found. Abraham buys the burial plot and only Abraham is mentioned as present at Sarah’s burial. Abraham then sends his servant Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac, but again we lack any information as to what Isaac is doing or how he is feeling after successive traumatic life events. Isaac only returns to the story when Eliezer returns with Rebekah and she first sees Isaac.

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Lessons on Leadership from Abraham and Sarah

Lessons on Leadership from Abraham and Sarah

Nov 13, 2020 By Jonathan Milgram | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

Sarah Imenu, matriarch of the Jewish people, is a rich and complex biblical character. As we read this week of her demise and her husband’s quest for her rightful resting place, it seems fitting to reflect on her extraordinary life, her role in the creation of the Jewish people, and the model of leadership she, together with Abraham, bequeathed to us as a legacy.

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A Family Reconciles

A Family Reconciles

Nov 22, 2019 By Naomi Kalish | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

Parashat Hayyei Sarah is bookended with the accounts of the deaths of the two first Jews, Sarah and Abraham. The early part of the text spends much time describing the process by which Abraham secured land for Sarah’s burial and then buried her. At the end of the parashah, we learn that Isaac and Ishmael buried their father Abraham together. Though the Torah describes these brothers’ unity in concise and matter-of-fact language, they and their extended family must have worked hard to achieve reconciliation.

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Falling Wisely

Falling Wisely

Nov 2, 2018 By Sarah Wolf | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

Hayyei Sarah offers us a scene straight out of a romantic comedy. By the middle of the parashah, Rebekah has agreed to follow Abraham’s servant back to Canaan, where she will meet and marry Isaac. Rebekah and the servant near their destination on camelback as the afternoon draws to a close, and Isaac is wandering in the fields. The mood is set for an elegant and romantic first meeting.

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Leaving Home

Leaving Home

Nov 10, 2017 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

To the best of my knowledge, Hayyei Sarah contains the only instance in Tanakh of a parent asking his child’s wishes. Laban and Betuel cannot come to an agreement with Abraham’s servant—who we’ll call Eliezer—about whether Rebecca should remain in Haran for a time or depart immediately to Canaan. And so, they ask Rebecca to state her preference. Contrary to her family’s express wishes, Rebecca decides to leave immediately.

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<em>Hesed</em> Depends on Saying No

Hesed Depends on Saying No

Nov 25, 2016 By Lilly Kaufman | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

Of all the lessons that Parashat Hayyei Sarah teaches us about hesed (kindness), perhaps its most important lesson can be summed up in the word “no.”

Rebecca, the heroine of the parashah, is both physically and ethically strong. She can lift a heavy water urn with ease, and she possesses a deep graciousness called hesed. When she gives water to Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, and his camels, she fulfills Eliezer’s eloquent prayer, in which he appealed to God moments earlier to find a fitting wife for Isaac. He names the value of hesed twice in this brief prayer (Gen. 24:12, 14), and his prayer is answered so rapidly and completely by Rebecca’s action that Eliezer is stunned (Gen. 24:21).

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A Venetian <em>Ketubbah</em>

A Venetian Ketubbah

Nov 25, 2016 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

This week’s parashah prominently features the mission of Abraham’s servant to find a wife for Isaac. The account includes the giving of gifts to Rebecca and her family (24:22, 53) and the assurance from Abraham’s family that they themselves are wealthy (Gen. 24:35). For thousands of years, ketubbot (Jewish marriage contracts) have established the financial responsibilities in a Jewish marriage. 

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Political Extremism in Hebron

Political Extremism in Hebron

Nov 9, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

Our parasha opens with the death of Sarah at the age of 127. Later in the parasha, when Abraham will breathe his last “at a good ripe age, old and contented (Genesis 25:8),” he will have celebrated 175 birthdays.

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Settling and Resettling the Land of Israel

Settling and Resettling the Land of Israel

Nov 6, 1993 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

God willing, I shall be in Israel when you read my thoughts on this week’s parasha. I leave Sunday evening to attend the commencement of the Seminary’s Beit Midrash in Jerusalem on November 3, at which we will confer some twenty-five degrees to Israeli students who have completed their course of studies either as rabbis, teachers, or community center workers. These young Israelis, and those who preceded them and those who will follow them, will in due time mainstream Conservative Judaism in Israel, thereby creating the reality of a religious alternative to Orthodoxy.

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Faith in Israel’s Destiny

Faith in Israel’s Destiny

Nov 22, 1997 By Morton M. Leifman <em>z”l</em> | Commentary | Hayyei Sarah

This week’s Torah portion, Haye Sarah, provides us with yet another ancient episode that eventually contributed to the molding of the mythic consciousness of our people in a profound way. It begins with the death of Sarah and continues on with a lengthy description of the legal and business arrangements necessary for Abraham’s acquisition of land for Sarah’s burial. Abraham’s status in the land of Canaan is that of ger v’toshav, a resident alien, and though a man of great substance, even a person of renown, one honored in the community, his legal status required that he obtain special permission both from the owner of the land and from the community as a whole to buy and to own property. Members of the native clans were reluctant to confer full rights even to resident aliens — especially the right to land ownership which conceivably might deplete the holdings of the progeny of those currently blessed with political control.

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