While the name of the portion is "Chayei Sarah", literally the "life of Sarah", we find that the portion, in fact, speaks about Sarah's passing and the aftermath. Why should it be called "Life of Sarah"? The Lubavitcher Rebbe answers that real life, eternal life, is when our children live their lives with the positive attributes that we taught them. This is the meaning of the Talmudic teaching, "If his children are alive, then he is alive"! (Taanit 5b) If we want to truly live on, we must continue to invest in our children now….

So too we see this in our Torah reading. Since Isaac and Rebecca continued with the positive traits of Sarah (as Rashi explains that all of miracles that Sarah was blessed with during her lifetime returned when Rebecca married Isaac), it is no wonder that the portion is called "Life of Sarah", to teach us that if we want to truly live on, we must continue to invest in our children now. And how can children keep their parents alive? By expressing in their own lives what they gained from their parents.

In the portion we also read how Abraham's servant, Eliezer, arrived at a well and waited for the prophecy to unfold for meeting Isaac's bride-to-be. The verse writes that Eliezer "ran to greet her". (Gen. 24:17) Why did he run to greet her? Rashi quotes the Midrash that Eliezer saw how the water in the well rose in her merit! If he saw such a demonstration of Rebecca's holiness, why then search for a further demonstration of her kindness? Wasn't the miracle, a divine sign, enough proof? Rabbi Yechezkel of Kuzmir answered that in judging a person, just one good personal character trait is worth one hundred wonders and miracles.

There is a telling (and humorous) story about the author of the Chofetz Chayim, the renowned Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen. Once, in his great humility, he came to a town and did his business the entire day without anyone knowing who he was. Towards evening he came to his sleeping quarters, and he asked for something to eat. He then whispered to the manager that he was the author of the Chofetz Chaim, but asked that he not tell anyone. The manager was shocked; for what reason did the Chofetz Chaim let him in on the secret? The Chofetz Chayim answered, that we learn this from Eliezer, the servant of Abraham. He too did not reveal who he was, until they put some food before him. (Gen. 24:34) Only then did he say, "I am the servant of Abraham!" Why? So they should know that the servant of Abraham is very careful that his food be especially kosher!

In connection to the above story, it is interesting that in the entire course of Eliezer fulfilling his mission, his name is never mentioned. Sometimes he is referred to as "the man", but usually as "the servant of Abraham". Chasidut teaches us that the Torah wants to teach us that all of Eliezer's success was because of Abraham. Even the miracles that happened to him were all initiated through Abraham's merits. So too, when we see ourselves as the servants and emissaries of G‑d, not only are we given special powers to fulfill our mission, nothing at all can stop us! As the Talmud testifies, "The hand of a servant is like the hand of the master!" Our hands are acting in G‑d's stead as His emissary.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


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