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25/26 November: Shabbat Chaye Sarah

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 3.45 pm: goes out 4.51 pm

Abraham buries Sarah in the Cave of Machpela in Chevron.  Afterwards, Abraham sends his servant back to Aram Naharaim (Aram of the two rivers, i.e. Mesopotamia) to find a wife for his son Isaac.  In describing Abraham’s present stage of life, the Torah says “Abraham was now old, advanced in years “ba-bayamim”, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in everything” (24:1).

Isn’t it redundant to say he was old AND advanced in years?  Midrash Bereisheet Rabbah (59:6) explains two aspects of aging:  chronological and psychological.  “Rabbi Acha said:  Some have the dignity of old age without actual length of days, while others have years without the dignity of age; but here the dignity of age corresponded to long life and long life to the dignity of age.”  In other words, Abraham acted like a wise, dignified, older man.

The author of Itturey Torah, a collection of comments on the parasha edited by Rabbi Aaron Yaakov Greenberg, makes a related observation.  He says that when Abraham’s age is described as “ba ba-yamim,” which literally means “he was coming along in days,” — it should be understood as ‘he came with all his days.’    This means that not one of all the days of his life was wasted, not one was empty — and brought that experience with him.

May we too merit not just length of days, but also the ability to use the wisdom we gain in our life.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

November 24, 2016