Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Chaye Sarah - 5774

My friends,

Thus far in our current cycle of Torah readings, two portions have been devoted to our father Abraham: Lech Lecha and Vayera. This week's parasha, Chaye Sarah, deals with the death of Sarah. Abraham buys a field and a cave in the city of Hebron, which becomes the burying place for our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The details of how Abraham purchased this piece of land in front of all the elders of Hebron was to guarantee that no one should ever question the ownership of this place. However, even to this day, there is a continuing battle as to who has the right to Hebron. The 200 settlers and those who go on a pilgrimage to the graves of our Patriarchs have a large contingent of Israeli soldiers protecting them from those who deny them the right to be at their ancestral home.

The story that follows the burial of Sarah is all about Chesed, kindness. Abraham sends his trusted servant Eliezer to Mesopotamia to find a girl - a Shidduch match - for his son Isaac. When Eliezer arrives at the well in the city where Nahor, Abraham's brother, lives, he prays to G-d to show kindness to Abraham by giving him personal guidance. The test he devises is one that would demand a high level of kindness from the girl, as he would ask her for a drink of water, but she offers water not just to him but also to all his camels. That's a girl that is extremely kind. When he urges her family to let her go with him to meet Yitzhak he mentions the word Chesed, by saying G-d had given him kindness and has shown Chesed to Abraham. Now it's their turn to show Chesed to Abraham by agreeing to the Shidduch. It would seem that the quality that Abraham was seeking in a girl that he did not see among the girls of Canaan, was the good heart and tremendous level of kindness that one would possess in order to extend help to a total stranger and to animals.

One of the signs of being a descendant of Abraham is the quality of performing Gemelut Chasadim - acts of kindness. It is a Mitzvah that has no limits. We are called upon to perform deeds of kindness at all times. One cannot say, "I have done enough, I am tired."

May you be privileged to continue to perform many acts of Chesed - kindness.

We are proud of the name of our congregation "Sharei Chesed" - the "Gates of Kindness".

Shabbat Shalom,