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Andrew Levin

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Dvar November 22 and 23

Chayai Sarah


Shabbat 11/23:

Review of the parsha:

Sarah dies at 120

Abraham negotiates a burial site for her

Abraham in deep mourning; instructs his servant to go find a wife for Isaac

Servant prays to G-d to find a woman who gives water freely

Finds Rebecca

Who was Rebecca?/ Jewish consent; Milcah- grandmother was sister to Lot; flip of patriarchy

Traced through her grandmother

Goes to her mother’s house

Rebecca herself consents to enter the marriage; family looks to her to decide

Only woman in the bible to receive a blessing

Isaac 37 when marries: pattern of men marrying older

Abraham sending servant to culture which is matriarchal and matrilineal 

Malbim: Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser (March 7, 1809 – September 18, 1879); chief rabbi of Romania

Malbim: He had not yet finished speaking. Hashem arranged that the moment he finished speaking, Rivkah would appear. In fact, this was the first time she ever visited the well because her father had many servants to send. And behold. The word “behold” emphasizes that it was a surprising event.

Verse: 24:67- Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.

(Rebekah comes to embody the spiritual essence and traits of Sarah)

Study Eshet Chayil text:

History: argue based on Sarah

Some say composed by King Solomon

First copy found in 1270

In many Jewish families the song is recited or chanted on Friday evenings before the Kiddush. This custom originated in kabbalistic circles and initially referred to the Shekhinah (“Divine presence”) as the mystical mother and wife. Later this devotion became a domestic ceremony in which the family paid homage to its wife and mother. Other sources maintain that Eshet Ḥayil refers to the Sabbath or the Torah. In some places this song was chanted at Jewish weddings. Its verses have often been used as inscriptions on tombstones of the pious; in Sephardi rituals the first verse is recited before the *Ashkavah (“laying to rest”) prayer at women’s funerals.- My Jewish Learning

Is Rebecca an Eshet Chayil?

Question for discussion:

What speaks to you in this story; what does not?

What values can we take from Rebecca?

Take Away:

The words may be challenging, the woman being described may be unattainable but Eshet Chayil is an opportunity to take a moment every week and honor your partner in all that she does. It’s a moment of connection amidst busy lives.