Posts Tagged ‘Chayei Sarah’

25
Nov

Final Partings

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Prayer

“Would that there were in this world no final partings (From Ahihara No Narihara, The Tales of Ise).”

I am more moved by listening to a recording of my father zt”l speaking, than I am by visiting his grave. I honor him more by studying his Torah than by spending time at his burial plot. I do not feel compelled to visit his grave. When I do visit, I have difficulty leaving. I feel incomplete, so I return to my car and turn on a recording of his reading a verse, and again, am completely connected to him. His grave represents a parting. His Torah is a reminder that the parting was not permanent.

I feel closer to the Ramchal and honor him more when I study his teachings than when I visit his burial plot. I am not compelled to visit Tevariah just to spend time sitting near his grave. There are no final partings from the Ramchal. I grasp a copy of The Path of the Just in my hand as I walk away from his grave because I will not part from him.

When I am fortunate enough to visit Israel, I always go to the Ramchal’s resting place, just as I do Rabbi Shlomo haLevi Alkabetz, the Ramak, the Ari, and the Bet Yosef. I will go to Safed just to visit with them, something I do not do just to visit Hoshea’s grave, despite his being one of my favorite prophets. While in the Safed cemetery, I’ll walk up the hill to Hoshea, read one of his prophecies, and do my best to honor him, but, I do not go to Safed to visit his grave. I cannot walk away from their graves as if in a final parting; I carry part of them with me as I step back onto the street above the hill.

I am more moved by the verse that describes Sarah’s death than I am by visiting the Cave of Machpelah. I feel that I honor her life more when I study her life than when I visit her grave. I feel the same about all the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Yet, I am still compelled to visit the Cave. I pause before the entrance to look up at the hill from where the huge stones were taken, as I was taught that King David’s first royal home stood there. He began in the place of beginnings, for although it was purchased as a burial plot, it was the beginning of our claim over the Land. King David wanted the beginning of his royal dynasty to be at the same place as that earlier beginnings.

I visit the Cave of Machpelah as a place of beginnings. I decided take the same approach to visiting my father’s burial place: I am going back to my beginning, to the person who not only gave me physical life, but spiritual direction. I returned to his grave to reconnect to my beginning. There was no sense of final partings. It was a reconnection to all my father gave me to approach my relationship with God and His Torah. I didn’t need to listen to a tape as I left. I pictured my father discussing with me what new steps to take. It was, not a sad experience, but an invigorating visit.

What would happen if I began my morning prayers, not as reciting what I’ve said so many times before, but as reconnecting to my beginnings?

It was thrilling. I’m going to try it with Shabbat this week; not a parting from the past, but as reconnecting to the beginning of the world.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

“There Was a Child Went Forth”

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Walt Whitman

From “There Was a Child Went Forth”

There was a child went forth every day.

And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,

And that object became part of him for the day or a certain

Part of the day,

Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

I first read this poem when I was very young.  My sister (#2) made up a story about a Simcha who could become something else once each day simply by staring at something he wanted to be.  She showed me the poem when I asked her from where she came up with such a great story idea.  I spent the next few days trying to become something else. One day I stared at my Chumash, the next day, an airplane, and then all sorts of things, until I accepted that it would never happen. I made sure to not stare at any of my sisters for fear that I might become one, a sister, that is. Horrors!

I wonder whether Isaac ever stared as his father, hoping to become another Abraham, or that Abraham would become part of him.  We know that father and son were different, which is why we refer to the “Lord of Abraham and the Lord of Isaac,” rather than, “The Lord of Abraham and Isaac;” each had a different relationship with God.

However, it’s natural for a child, especially of someone as remarkable as Abraham to want to be like his father. Is there a point at which we can see Isaac choosing to be different from his father and forge his own way, a different relationship with God?

Hagar and Yishmael had been chased away by Sarah years earlier in an effort to protect Isaac from their negative influence. Yet, Isaac, still inconsolable after Sarah’s death, goes to bring Hagar back to Abraham for marriage. The man, so devoted to his mother, while still mourning for her, brings back the woman she chased out for his sake, to marry her husband! It is at that particular moment that the Sages see Isaac forging his own path: Abraham had prayed Shacharit, as a “Stander,” Isaac prayed Minchah as a conversation. Isaac instituted a new time and a new form of prayer. Surely the two events, bringing Hagar back and instituting new parameters of prayer, are related.

I also wonder if Isaac would have been ready to marry Rebecca before he took these two steps.

What happened at that moment?

Until that moment, Isaac was almost passive, just as he insisted on being at the Akeidah, when he requested to be tied up so as not to flinch. Eliezer went to find a wife for him. It was being done for him, not, by him. Until that moment, Isaac had to be protected by Abraham and Sarah, and they expelled Hagar and Yishmael for his sake.

Isaac would not passively enter his marriage; it wouldn’t be a real relationship. He had to demonstrate to his father and himself that he no longer would or needed to, stand on the sidelines while others did for him or protected him. He brought back Hagar to show that he could protect himself.

Isaac was ready to engage life on his own. He prayed, not in a standing position, as did his father, but as part of a conversation, an active participant. He did not pray in the morning when all was light and bright, but at the meeting point between morning and evening, as if to say that he could deal with ambiguity.

Thus, when Rebecca first sees him, the verse describes him as an “Ish,” a man, a fully-grown man, ready to become himself, not to be his father.

Author Info: Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Certain Misunderstood People Of The Book

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

The jury, passing on the prisoner’s life,

May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two

Guiltier than him they try.

–William Shakespeare from Measure for Measure

I remember my father zt”l’s response when someone said, “We have to realize that the most wicked people in the Bible were more holy and righteous than the holiest people in our time.” My father rolled his eyes and said, “It seems to me that you live in Purim (the time when everything is reversed) all year long!”

Yet, when thinking about the quote above, I wonder, not if if the biblical bad guys were great people, as plaited by that fool, but if they generally get a bum rap.  I wonder whether we the jury, passing judgment on them, are not “Guiltier than him they try.”

Laban is one of the most infamous biblical characters and yet we use his parting blessing to his sister Rebecca at every wedding. We may describe at the Seder, how he was more dangerous than Pharaoh, but when Isaac and Rebecca wanted a wife for Jacob, they sent him right back to Laban.

Human beings such as Rachel and Leah do not spontaneously appear. There must have been something special in their environment, in Laban’s home, that nurtured such extraordinary women.

It’s almost impossible for us to see Yishmael objectively, but he’s there at his father’s funeral, in a state of Teshuva. God judged him at Beer-Lahai-Roi, “ba’asher hoo sham,” as he was at that moment, in Teshuva, good and innocent. The Midrash even shares tales of Yishmael learning to emulate his father’s chesed.  Are we the jury judging him fairly?

The really good guy, Eliezer, is rejected by Abraham even as the master trusts only him to find a wife for Isaac: The devoted servant’s daughter is less fit as a wife for Isaac than the daughter of the wicked Betuel and the sister of the even worse Laban.

It’s almost as if the Torah is directing us to not see the biblical characters in black and white, but to understand them as multifaceted human beings, perhaps no guiltier than we who judge them.

I once taught a series in Traditional Synagogue of St Louis for my friend Rabbi Ephraim Zimand, entitled, “Certain Misunderstood People of The Book.” I focused on Cain, Ham, Nimrod, Yishmael, Laban and Esau. I found so much important material that I offered the course again, about five years later, together with Rabbi Tzvi Blanchard, a big Talmid Chacham and a spectacular therapist: “A Rabbi and a Therapist Examine Certain Misunderstood People of The Book.” I continue to discover deeper layers in the text, commentaries and Midrashim, and am trying to convince a psychiatrist neighbor to work through all the material with me.

I am convinced that each of the biblical bad guys represents a specific strategy of the Evil Inclination, and that only by studying the subtleties of their behavior can we understand the strategies of our greatest adversary and friend.

We can find hints of our own struggles in Laban, Yishmael, and Esau. We cannot afford to sit in judgment as a jury until we understand these people for who they really were.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

It Takes A Thief

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

He is a great friend and neighbor. He is well-read, intelligent, insightful, and generous. So, when Debbie and I were stuck in Brooklyn and needed something from the house, we called him for help. The problem was that he didn’t (pretended to not) have a key. We needed a cat burglar, not a scholar teacher. No problem; our good guy neighbor is a skilled thief. You never know.

Andy is proud of his criminal skills, and prefers that I not mention that he has a back-up key to our home and the alarm code. He wants to be known as a thief. I’ll leave that to his wife, a prominent psychiatrist.

I am confident in stating that Andy never stole anything in his life, but that still does not clear him of suspicion.  Abraham was not satisfied in never having robbed anyone; it takes more to be cleared of all potential criminal charges.

“So the man entered the house, and unmuzzled the camels.” Rashi points out that if the Torah informs us of such a seemingly insignificant detail, it must be of supreme importance: “Abraham’s livestock were muzzled whenever they were away from home, so that they could not graze in other people’s fields.” Impressive behavior, but still unnecessary for the Torah to tell us as we already learned that, “Lot’s dishonest shepherds grazed their flocks on other people’s pastures. When Abraham’s shepherds rebuked them for stealing, they found a way to justify their actions.” (Rashi, Genesis 13:7) The Torah already taught us about the extreme care Abraham took to prevent even his animals from stealing. Why was it necessary to repeat as part of the Eliezer in the house of Laban story?

It is not enough to not steal, especially when dealing with Labans, or people such as Andy the Thief with dark secrets. In such situations we must go beyond normal care, to extremes, such as muzzling the camels as a sign that even our animals will not steal.

It is not enough to avoid conflict, or to simply stay away from arguments when we find ourselves in a conflict ridden environment.  We have to go to the opposite extreme in such situations, and work assiduously for peace.

Does this mean that we, who live in a promiscuous environment, should insist that women should dress in burkhas?

We are taught that Rebecca lived in such an environment, and yet, it is only at the moment when she meets Isaac that, “She then took the veil and covered herself.” (24:65) She did not wear her veil at home, in Aram Naharaim, a place without morals; she covered herself only when meeting her husband! Should she not have worn a veil while in Laban’s home to make a statement similar to Abraham’s with his muzzled camels?

There is a difference between a statement of honesty to one of modesty: Abraham signaled to the world that they were safe with him. He was not a threat. He would not take anything from them no matter how innocent or insignificant.  Abraham’s statement may have had a message of rebuke, but it was not a challenge. However, modesty is not an external statement, but an expression of internal dignity.  Rebecca’s veil would be meaningless to anyone other than an Isaac who would honor her dignity. A veil would only be a challenge to a society in which people feel entitled to grab what they want, no matter the feelings, morals, or desires of the victim.

There is a difference between a statement of modesty to a world that honors such statements and one to a world that ridicules such values. A veil in Aram Naharaim would have been a joke. Rebecca would have had to constantly go to further extremes to make her statement. She would have been living in a constant battle against her world, rather than fighting for her own dignity.

Ironically, the most important place to make a statement of internal dignity is only in an environment that would honor and respect such a statement. This is not to say that modesty and internal dignity are of supreme importance in a hostile environment. It is to say that modesty and dignity cannot be an expression of battle against society. It is an internal process of nurturing dignity; not a statement against the world.

I think of the new law in France against Burkhas, and think of a society that perceives the veil as a provocation.

I then think of a stranger in an elevator, remarking after a group of Satmar women exited, “Those women are beyond me. They are untouchable.” He noticed the look on my face and added, “I meant that as a compliment. They have something other women do not.”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Well, Well, Well

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Eliezer met Rebecca, Isaac’s intended, at a well. Jacob met Rachel at a well. Where is the well of Abraham and Sarah?

There were many wells in Abraham and Sarah’s story: After the Akeidah, Abraham “Stayed at Beer-sheba.” (22:19) Just before the Akeidah, Abraham planted an ‘eshel’ in Beer-sheba, where he had just entered into a covenant with Abimelech, and where he “disputed with Abimelech regarding the well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized.”. (21:30-33) God opened Hagar’s eyes, and, “she perceived a well of water.” (21:19) It was Hagar’s second well: “Therefore the well was called, ‘The Well of the Living One Appearing to Me.’” (16:14)

With all wells in the Abraham and Sarah saga, we don’t find them together at a well, that is, until after she was buried:

“Now Isaac came from having gone to Beer-lahai-roi [The Well of the Living One Appearing to Me; Hagar’s well} for he dwelt in the south country. Isaac went out to supplicate in the field towards evening and he raised his eyes and saw, and behold, camels were coming. And Rebecca raised her eyes and saw Isaac; she inclined wile upon the camel. And she said to the servant, ‘Who is that man walking in the field toward us?’ And the servant said, ‘He is my master.’ And Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother; he married Rebecca, she became his wife, and he loved her; and thus was Isaac consoled after his mother.” (24:62-67)

Isaac, returning from Hagar’s well, saw camels. Rebecca, coming to Isaac, “raised her eyes and saw Isaac.” This was the ‘Meeting at the Well’ of Isaac and Rebecca; and, the ‘Meeting at the Well’ of Abraham and Sarah: “And Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother.” “And thus was Isaac consoled after his mother.”

Abraham’s father arranged the match between Abraham and Sarah. There was no magical moment of meeting. They had to create their own magical moments, their own sense of a future shaped by them, not by their past. Abraham and Sarah had to create their ‘Meeting at the Well,’ their sense of the possibilities of life. Isaac was raised with that sense of possibility, as was Jacob.

Isaac searched for the ‘Meeting at the Well’ of Abraham and Sarah; he was looking for camels, not people, because he wanted a sign of a well for his parents. He was returning from Hagar’s well, something Sarah seemed to never have. He was never consoled that his parents never shared a well. He knew that his intended was on her way to him, but he was out at Hagar’s well. Where was that magical moment of connection between Abraham and Sarah?

It was in his connection with Rebecca. The moment that Isaac found his destiny, he realized that all the hopes and dreams of his parents were realized. They had something far more powerful than a magical ‘Meeting at a Well,’ they had a magical meeting at the end of their lives, when everything they had done, came together. “And thus was Isaac consoled after his mother.”

Which ‘Meeting at the Well’ is the more powerful?

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Eshet Chayil – Singing With The Angels

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“Give her the fruits of her hand, and let her be praised in the gates by her very own deeds.”

The Zohar teaches that we create an angel with each positive action. These angels accompany us before God and attest to our accomplishments. The Woman of Valor is praised before God by the angels she has created.

We honor her angels, the same angels we welcomed in Shalom Aleichem, and join them in singing the praises of the Eishet Chayil of our home.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Eshet Chayil – Knowing How To Pray

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“False is grace and vain is beauty, a God-Fearing woman – she should be praised.”

Rabbi Yose bar Jeremiah said: Why are the prophets likened here to a woman? Because, just as such a woman is not embarrassed to demand the needs of her household from her husband, so were the prophets not shy about demanding Israel’s needs from God.” (Midrash Mishlei)

I always read this Midrash as describing a woman who knows how to pray: She will pray to God, demanding the needs of her household just as she would demand the same from her husband. The prophets learned how to pray from such a Woman of Valor.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Eshet Chayil – A Complete Person

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“Many daughters have amassed achievement, but you surpassed them all.”

My daughter wanted a specific dress, but it was far too short. “Don’t worry,” she assured me, “Mommy can fix it.” I suggested that even Mommy can’t make a dress grow, but she insisted, “Mommy can do anything!”

My children are convinced that their mother can do absolutely anything. They have seen her successfully tackle one insurmountable problem after another. They do not need proof that she possesses the specific skill necessary for a particular task. They know that she will succeed at whatever she does.

The Woman of Valor projects that sense of surpassing anything and anyone. She is a woman without limitation. She incorporates everything she learns. She lives all that she believes. She has confidence and courage, determination and destiny. She is a Whole and Complete person, a paradigm of a person striving to master herself and attach to the Creator.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Eshet Chayil – Natural Respect

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“Her children arise and praise her, her husband, and he lauds her.”

I have risen for rabbis, teachers, honored leaders, and my parents all my life. Most of the time I stood up as I was supposed to. There were a few times in my life when I naturally stood, not as an obligation, in honor of a person by virtue of who he or she was or had done. I have stood up in middle of teaching a class to honor an insight or question from one of my students. The times I rose as a natural response remain permanently etched in my mind as they have so much more meaning than rising pro-forma. I remember rising before Mr Altman z”l in St Louis, and Martha Cohen a”h in Lincoln Square Synagogue. I stood up when my father zt’l entered a room, not because I was obligated, but because his bearing and greatness demanded that I rise before him.

I have always read this verse as focusing on the Woman of Valor’s children and husband rising in her honor, not on their praises. I picture a woman who has so much natural dignity that people cannot help but rise before her to honor her.

I believe that I would have stood whenever my father entered a room even if not obligated to rise before a father and rebbi, but the Mitzvah changed my rising into standing for God’s honor, for God’s commandment. The Mitzvah added a deeper dimension to the simple act of rising before my father.

This verse adds a similar dimension to a husband and children rising in honor of the Eishet Chayil. They rise not only in honor of this great Woman of Valor; they rise before all that she represents, all that was described in the earlier verses. We rise before the Woman of Valor and honor, not only her, but the eternal values she embodies.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Oct

Eshet Chayil – Long Term Vision

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“She anticipates the ways of her household, and partakes not of the bread of laziness.”

Sarah always thought of the long term future for her family. She gave Hagar to Abraham so he could build a family. She insisted that Abraham expel Yishmael to protect Isaac. Sarah anticipated the needs of her household and all her descendants. She understood the eternal impression made by all she did and treated all her actions with that degree of importance.

We often react to an immediate situation with a child or spouse without considering the long-term effects of our reaction. The Woman of Valor considers all the implications of her actions and words. She anticipated their effect. She does not react impetuously, but with careful thought and planning.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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