29/30 Oct: Chayei Sarah : Shabbat comes in 5:24 pm, ends 6:26 pm
Parashat Chayei Sarah – Love is Healing
When Sarah dies, Yitzḥak all but disappears from the narrative. It isn’t until Rivkah arrives that we see Yitzḥak re-enter the narrative, at which point the Torah tells us (Gen. 24:67): ‘Yitzḥak then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rikvah as his wife. Yitzhak loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.’ It is the first time that the Torah tells us that one person loved another, and it is explicit that Yitzḥak’s love for Rivkah is what allowed him to heal from the loss of his mother.
In the verses prior to Avraham’s death, the Torah tells us that Avraham fathered other sons, but left all he had to Yitzḥak. To his other sons, he gave gifts while they were living, and then sent them away from Yitzḥak. And then, in the verse directly after Avraham’s death, the Torah states (Gen. 25:9): ‘His sons Yitzḥak and Yishmael buried him in the cave of Makhpelah.’ Even though the verses directly preceding Avraham’s death emphasised his preference for Yitzḥak – and perhaps reminded us subtly of the first son who had been sent away into the wilderness, only surviving due to divine intervention – the Torah immediately turns to tell us that this drama of the favourite child did not stop the brothers from coming together to bury their father. It is a healing in the current generation, of wounds inflicted by the previous generation.
By following the character of Yitzḥak in his response to the deaths of his parents, we see Yitzḥak respond to his loss in a way that is instructive for us. First, Yitzḥak teaches us that love is healing. And second, he reminds us that we are not bound forever by the drama of our elders; we can heal through love, even when that love is complicated.