Weekly Sidra: Chayei Sarah (Sarah’s life)
Torah Portion: Bereshit / Genesis 23:1-25:18
Haftorah: Melachim Alef / Kings I 1:1-31
Chayei Sarah, Chaye Sarah, or Hayye Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה — Hebrew for “life of Sarah,” the first words in the parshah) is the fifth weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. It constitutes Genesis 23:1–25:18. Jews read it on the fifth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in November. In the previous parsha, Vayeira, we read about the birth of Yitzchak Avinu in his parents old age, and the story of the binding of Yitzchak, – the akaida.
The Parasha starts “Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years” (Genesis 23:1). This portion of the Torah is filled with romance and sorrow. It tells the story of how Abraham mourned his wife after her passing, and how he procured a wife for his son Isaac. At the end of this portion, Abraham is laid to rest beside his beloved wife. Our Parsha describe events after Sarah’s passing, it is nevertheless called "the life of Sara," for in it we read how Sara’s true purpose in life begins to be fulfilled: the beginnings of the Jewish nation ant their Land, here in the physical world.
Note: On the Shabbat the Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading. Here are this week`s aliyot:
1st Aliya: Avraham negotiates with Ephron the Hitite to purchase the Cave of Machpelah as a burial place for Sarah. Tradition says that this is also the burial place of Adam and Chava.
This aliyah then gives a detailed account of Avraham purchasing the cave of Machpella for 400 shekels of silver. It is interesting to note, that the Cave of Machpella (Chevron), the site of Beit Hamikdash bought by King David, and the city of Shchem, bought by Yakov and later used to bury Yosef– were all paid for, but yet all are contested today.
2nd Aliya: Avraham sends Eliezar, his trusted servant, to Aram Naharayim, (between the Tigris and the Euphrates) to find Yitzchak a shiduch – a bride.
3rd Aliya: Leading a caravan of supplies and riches, Eliezar arrives in Nachor. While resting by “the well”, he devises a test to ascertain the worthiness of a potential mate for Yitzchak. Rivkah (Yitzchak’s 1st cousin once removed) meets all the criteria and Eliezar presents her with the appropriate gifts.
4th Aliya: Eliezar is invited into Bituel’s home (Rivkah’s father) and he relates the entire story of his mission and his encounter with Rivkah. Eliezar asks for her hand in marriage to Yitzchak. Bituel and Lavan (Rivka’s brother) agree.
5th Aliya: Rivkah express her desire to depart immediately. Her family blesses her, and Eliezar brings her to Canaan. Yitzchak marries Rivka in the year 2108. Eliezer and Rivkah return and find Yitzchak praying in a field as it was getting to be evening.
6th & 7th Aliyot: Avraham marries Keturah (some say she was Hagar) and has 6 more sons. Avarham dies in 2123 – 1638 b.c.e. at the age of 175. His two sons Yitzchak and Yishmael bury him in the Cave of Machpelah. Yishmael’s 12 sons are listed and Yishmael dies at 137.
Tags: Alef, aliya, Aliyah, Beit HaMikdash, beloved wife, burial place, cave of machpelah, chaye sarah, hitite, jewish nation, mdash, parasha, parsha, parshah, sidra, simchat torah, son isaac, Torah Reading, true purpose, weekly torah portion
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