June 14, 2024
Parashat Chayei Sarah

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 through 25:18), the fifth weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. According to Wikipedia, Chayei Sarah is made up of 5,314 Hebrew letters, 1,402 words, 105 verses, and 171 lines of the Torah Scroll. I also learned that the Shabbat before the start of a Jewish month (Rosh Chodesh) is known as “Shabbat Mevarchim” (the Shabbat when we bless); on this day during the synagogue service, we recite a special blessing for the new month and announce the timing of Rosh Chodesh.

Chayei Sarah (“The Life of Sarah”) opens as Sarah dies and Abraham buys the Cave of Machpelah to bury her. Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac. The servant meets Rebecca at a well and Rebecca returns with the servant to marry Isaac. Abraham remarries, has more children, and dies at age 175.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Chayei Sarah:

How many people in the early sections of the Torah are recorded as, “they lived a certain number of years, they had offspring, and then they died”? Nothing at all is mentioned of any of their contributions or accomplishments during their lifetime. Contrast this with the life of Sara, our founding matriarch. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch z”l comments, that this is the only place in the entire Tanach where the Torah records a woman’s age- not once, but twice. The sages record that Sara’s life was divided into three stages- childhood, maturing youth and mature, completed adulthood. During each stage, the accomplishments and successes of the next stage built upon those of the previous ones. She did not allow any of the accomplishments of the previous stage to wither away, but instead built upon them and carried them into the future.

How many of us can look upon what we have accomplished thus far and say they are indeed proud of what we have done. Many people, as they age, comment that they have a “bucket list” of places they wish to see and activities they have not done. Sara’s bucket list was centered around how she could reach out and help others. In modern times, we read about people on social media called influencers whose professional and personal lives are wasted sitting in front of a computer screen instead of getting into real life and actually helping people. Let us all emulate the life of Sarah, who by her deeds and actions, brought much kindness and helpfulness into the world and forged a mindfulness of G-d’s role in our lives.

Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.

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