The life of Sarah was one hundred years, twenty years and seven years (23:1)

At the age of twenty she was like age seven in beauty, and at the age of one hundred she was like age twenty in piety. [Another version: at one hundred she was like twenty in beauty, and at twenty she was like seven in piety.]

(Rashi; Midrash Rabbah)

Why does the Torah split up the tally of her years into three parts (“one hundred years,” “twenty years” and “seven years”)? To tell us that every day of her life was the equivalent of them all. At the age of one hundred years she was like age twenty in strength, and at age twenty she was like age seven in modesty and purity; at age seven she was like age twenty in intelligence, and at age twenty she was like age one hundred in righteousness.

(Midrash HaGadol)


Abraham came to mourn for Sarah (23:2)

Where did he come from? He came from Mount Moriah, Sarah having died of grief over the Binding of Isaac.

(Midrash Rabbah)


I am a stranger and a resident amongst you (23:4)

The Jew is a “resident” in the world, for the Torah instructs him not to escape the physical reality but to inhabit it and elevate it. Virtually all the mitzvot (divine commandments) of the Torah are physical actions involving physical objects, in keeping with the Jew’s mission to make a “dwelling for G‑d in the material realm” by sanctifying the everyday materials of everyday life.

At the same time, the Jew feels himself a “stranger” in the material world. His true home is a higher, loftier place, the world of spirit, the world of holiness and G‑dliness from which his soul has been exiled and to which it yearns to return. Indeed, it is only because the Jew feels himself a stranger in the world that he can avoid being wholly consumed and overwhelmed by it, and maintain the spiritual vision and integrity required to elevate it and sanctify it as an abode for the Divine Presence.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

The story is told of the visitor who, stopping by the home of the great chassidic master Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch, was outraged by the poverty he encountered there. Rabbi DovBer’s home was bare of all furnishing, save for an assortment of rough wooden planks and blocks that served as benches for his students during the day and as beds for his family at night. “How can you live like this?” demanded the visitor. “I myself am far from wealthy, but at least in my home you will find, thank G‑d, the basic necessities: some chairs, a table, beds . . .”

“Indeed?” said Rabbi DovBer. “But I don’t see any of your furnishings. How do you manage without them?”

“What do you mean? Do you think that I schlep all my possessions along with me wherever I go? When I travel, I make do with what’s available. But at home—a person’s home is a different matter altogether!”

“Ah, yes,” said Rabbi DovBer. “At home, it is a different matter altogether . . .”

(Likkutei Dibburim)


The Cave of Machpelah (23:9)

Rav and Shmuel differ as to its meaning. One says that the cave consisted of a lower and an upper chamber. The other says that it had multiples of couples [interred in it]: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.

(Talmud, Eruvin 53a)


Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham: “The field I give to you, and the cave that is in it, I give it to you . . .” (23:11)

Said Rabbi Elazar: The righteous promise little and perform much—Abraham promised his guests “a morsel of bread” (Genesis 18:5) and then “ran to the herd and fetched a calf tender and good, and he hurried to prepare it” (ibid., v. 7).

On the other hand, the wicked promise much and do not perform even a little. Initially Ephron proclaimed, “A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you?” But in the end, “Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth—four hundred shekels of silver in negotiable currency.”

(Talmud, Bava Metzia 87a)


Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver (23:16)

Said Rabbi Yudan the son of Rabbi Simon: This is one of the three places regarding which the nations of the world cannot accuse Israel and say, “You have stolen them.” The three places are: the Cave of Machpelah, the site of the Holy Temple, and the tomb of Joseph at Shechem. The Cave of Machpelah, as it is written, “Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver.” The Temple: “So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold” (I Chronicles 21:25). And Joseph’s tomb: “[Jacob] bought the parcel of land (at Shechem) for a hundred pieces of silver” (Genesis 33:19).

(Bereishit Rabbah 79:7)


Four hundred shekels of silver (23:16)

As per Leviticus 27:16, a field the size of a beit kor, which is the equivalent of 75,000 square cubits, represents a value of 50 silver shekels. Thus, the size of the field which Abraham purchased for 400 silver shekels was eight kor, or 600,000 square cubits.

A square cubit (approx. 20 inches by 20 inches) is the space occupied by a single person. This means that Abraham purchased a plot of land that provides an individual “space” for each of the 600,000 souls of Israel.

(Paane’ach Raza)

Our sages tell us that the Torah contains 600,000 letters (counting the spaces between letters), for each Jew possesses something of the Torah. The same is true of the Land of Israel. Israel is the eternal inheritance of the Jewish people, equally the property of every individual Jew. And so it has been from the very first moment of Jewish ownership of the Holy Land: the first plot of land obtained by the first Jew included a share for every Jewish soul.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


Abraham was old and come along in days (24:1)

When Abraham aged, he did not merely pass through the days of his life: he accumulated them. Each day was fully utilized, so that they were fully possessed by him.

(Zohar)


I will make you swear by the L‑rd, G‑d of heaven and G‑d of the earth (24:3)

But further on (in verse 7) he says, “The L‑rd, the G‑d of heaven, who took me from my father’s house.”

This is what Abraham was saying to Eliezer: “When G‑d summoned me from the house of my father, He was G‑d of the heavens but not of the earth: the inhabitants of the earth did not recognize Him, and His name was not referred to in the land. But now that I have made His name familiar in the mouths of His creatures, He is G‑d in both heaven and earth.”

(Rashi)


Before he finished speaking, behold, Rebecca came out (24:15)

Three people were answered by G‑d as their words left their mouths: Eliezer, the servant of Abraham; Moses; and Solomon. Eliezer, as it is written, “Before he finished speaking, behold, Rebecca came out.” Moses, as it is written (Numbers 16:31), “As he concluded saying all these things, the ground split open . . .” Solomon, as it is written (II Chronicles 7:1), “As Solomon concluded praying, the fire descended from the heavens . . .”

(Midrash Rabbah)


The man took a golden ring, a half-shekel in weight; and two bracelets of ten shekels’ weight of gold for her hands (24:22)

A half-shekel—to allude to the shekels contributed by the people of Israel [for the construction of the Sanctuary in the desert], a half-shekel per head.

(Rashi)

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He gave straw and provender for the camels . . . and there was set food before him to eat (24:32-33)

First he fed the animals, and afterward he was served food. For it is forbidden for a person to taste anything until he feeds his animals.

(Midrash HaGadol)


He said: “I will not eat until I have told of my errand.” And he said: “Speak.” (24:33)

Said Rabbi Acha: The talk of the servants of the fathers is more desirable than the Torah scholarship of the children. For Eliezer’s story, which takes up two or three pages in the Torah, is twice recounted, while many principles of Torah law are conveyed with a single word or letter.

(Rashi; Midrash Rabbah)

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Sarah, my master’s wife, bore a son to my master in her old age; and to him he has given all that he possesses (24:36)

Eliezer showed them a deed of bequest in which Abraham had given Isaac all his possessions, so that they should hurry to send their daughter.

(Rashi)

As the first Jewish marriage described by the Torah, the union of Isaac and Rebecca is the prototype of all subsequent Jewish marriages, both in the literal sense of building a home in Israel and in the broader sense of uniting the physical world with its cosmic soul, thereby fulfilling the divine purpose in creation of making the world a dwelling place for G‑d. In this endeavor is invested everything that Abraham possesses: all the resources—spiritual and material—with which the Almighty endows His people to the end of realizing His purpose in creation.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


I arrived today at the well (24:42)

From Hebron to Charan is a 17-day journey, and Eliezer made the trip in three hours.

(Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 16)


Her brother and mother said . . . (24:55)

But where was Bethuel? He wished to hinder it, and so he was smitten during the night.

(Midrash Rabbah)


We will call the girl and inquire at her mouth (24:57)

From this we learn that a woman should not be given in marriage without her consent.

(Rashi)


Isaac went out to meditate in the field . . . and behold, camels were coming (24:63)

Sometimes a person must go to his soulmate, and sometimes his soulmate comes to him. In the case of Isaac, his wife came to him, as it is written, “And he saw, and behold, there were camels coming.” Jacob, however, went to his wife, as it is written, “Jacob went out of Be’er Sheva . . .” (Genesis 28:10).

(Midrash HaGadol)


Isaac brought her into the tent [of] his mother Sarah (24:67)

This verse can also be punctuated “Isaac brought her into the tent—his mother Sarah,” implying that when she came into the tent she became, in effect, his mother Sarah.

For as long as Sarah lived, a cloud (signifying the Divine Presence) hung over her tent. When she died, the cloud disappeared; but when Rebecca came, it returned.

As long as Sarah lived, her doors were wide open. At her death, that openhandedness ceased; but when Rebecca came, it returned.

As long as Sarah lived, there was a blessing on her dough, and the lamp used to burn from the evening of the Sabbath until the evening of the following Sabbath. When she died, these ceased; but when Rebecca came, they returned.

(Midrash Rabbah; Rashi)


Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death (24:67)

Such is the way of the world: as long as a person’s mother is alive, he is attached to her; when she dies, he finds comfort in his wife.

(Rashi)


Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah (25:1)

This is Hagar. She is called Keturah because her deeds were now as pleasing as the ketoret (the incense offered in the Holy Temple)

(Midrash Rabbah; Rashi)

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His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the Cave of Machpelah (25:9)

This implies that Ishmael did teshuvah (returned to a righteous life), and placed Isaac before himself.

(Rashi)