D’var Torah: Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Weekly D’var Torah

Torah Portion Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-23:18)

By Avi Chesler

This week’s Torah parsha (portion) is Chayei Sarah, literally translating to “the life of Sarah.” In this parsha, many ancient events that shaped the Jewish nation took place.

Yet, ironically, the event for which the portion is named–the death of Sarah–has the least impact. Chayei Sarah means “the life of Sarah,” but the parsha only discusses her death and post-death events, not Sarah herself.

At the opening, Abraham reads about his wife’s passing and sets out to find a proper burial ground. He settles on the cave of Machpelah, but when he goes to buy it, its offered it as a gift. Abraham respectfully declines, agreeing to pay the full price, 400 shekels.

Not only does Abraham insist on paying, but he does so in front of everyone! Abraham buys the land for burial for the full price, in front of the whole community, to prevent any future dispute of ownership.

He is dealing with a group of people that could cheat him and therefore; he  stages a public sale to prevent any future miscommunications.

Proof is clearly important to Abraham.

We can all draw a lesson from Abraham. In a world where people can easily “stretch the truth” in advertising and terms and conditions for basic items such as phones are over 50 pages long, it is important to make sure that your deals are what they seem.

After Abraham buries his wife, he sets out to find a wife for his son Isaac. He sends his slave Eliezer to Charan, Abraham’s hometown, to look for a soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

Upon arriving in Charan, Eliezer goes to a well, where he makes a silent request of God. He asks to find Isaac’s wife at the well, but that she fit certain criteria.

He vows that when he asks for water, the woman that gives it to both him and his camels is meant to be Isaac’s bride. Of course that woman ends up being Rebecca, who goes on to become one of the matriarchs of Israel.

This story highlights how a small act of kindness can impact your entire life. I doubt that when Rebecca offered Eliezer and his camels water, she was doing so because she knew that this would lead to her marrying a man she had never met.

Yet even because she was kind, and her life turns out the better for it. This small act of kindness leads to her marriage to Isaac, leading to the continuation of Judaism, which eventually leads to us.

Finally, towards the end of the parsha, Abraham marries his third wife, Keturah. They have six kids(!!!) one of whom is named Midian, who eventually starts the nation of (you [hopefully] guessed it)…Midian! One of his descendants maries Moses, so Abraham’s marriage to Keturah ultimately leads to the continuation of Moses’ line.

So, to recap, it is always important to know what you are agreeing to and you should always try and be kind. I hope you all have a wonderful Shabbat and a great week! Shabbat Shalom!


USY’s weekly d’var Torahs are written by high-schooled aged teens from across North America.

Related Links

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27)

Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

Midrash Manicures: Chayei Sarah