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Chayei Sarah 5776

Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  This week Abraham seeks a wife for his son Isaac. If you are interested in finding a spouse -- or have kids looking to find the right person -- you will want to read this week's Torah portion! It is important to have an understanding of what marriage is and what one needs in a spouse before deciding who you date. In modern times, too often people happen to meet, have an attraction, end up living together ... and then kind of slide into marriage. Had they set out what they wanted in a spouse, they likely would never have chosen this person. The standards for living together are far lower than the standards one would set for a life partner. As Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going ... any road will take you there."

Jewish wisdom defines marriage as the commitment a man and a woman make to become one and to pursue together common life goals. Marriage is a means and not an end. No realization is more important than the awareness that marriage in and of itself is not a life goal, but rather a supremely potent vehicle for achieving life goals with a drive, energy and effectiveness not available from any other source. It creates an expanded sense of being and potential while providing a wellspring of insight into self, others and life.

People think that marriage is a goal that brings with it happiness, contentment and most everything that life in the single's lane is lacking. Untrue! A person who is depressed, aimless and single and who then marries will be depressed, aimless and married. To be married without having life goals is like being all dressed up with no place to go. To be married and to share a vision shaped by common ideals and dreams is to embrace a path of boundless potential.

Besides sharing the same goals, and having the necessary chemistry, what character traits should one look for in a spouse? Three of the most important traits to look for in a potential spouse are kindness, loyalty and honesty.

Kindness means to be unselfish and genuinely concerned with the needs of others. It is indispensable in a prospective marriage partner because the essence of marriage is the fusion of two human beings into a new unified being. The presence of the trait of kindness is an indicator that the person you are dating has the capacity for this expansion of self. It's just not possible to build a life with someone whose world view contains little more than him or herself.

Loyalty means you can trust, rely and count on someone. When you are looking for someone who is loyal, it means you are looking for someone who understands that the commitment of marriage is forever. Without loyalty there is no meaningful relationship. There are just two lone travelers temporarily sharing the same quarters awaiting a disaster.

Honesty means that you must truthfully represent the kind of person you are. Lying creates an illusory world in an attempt to avoid consequences. It is devastating in marriage. It distorts the relationship, it's manipulative and it will almost always be discovered. Once uncovered, dishonesty creates an atmosphere of suspicion and doubt that drives away the possibility of intimacy. Both trust and genuine communication depend on mutual honesty. Without it, life becomes a charade. (adapted from Death of Cupid)

There are 3 questions that need to be asked before asking someone to marry you. If you can't answer "yes" to all 3, then you are heading for trouble!

1. Do I respect this person enough that I want to be more like him/her?

Respect is crucial in any relationship, particularly marriage. The litmus test for respect is determining if you want to emulate this person. What qualities do you respect in this person? Would you be happy if your child turns out like him/her?

2. If his/her personality and habits stay exactly as they are today, will I be happy 20, 30, 40 years down the road?

Never marry potential. If you can't be happy with the person the way he or she is now, don't get married. Don't expect to change another person. You'll be frustrated and they'll be resentful. Can you accept this person exactly as they are, for the rest of your life?

3. Do we share common life goals and priorities?

Sure, chemistry and common interests are important. However, make sure you share the deeper level of connection that comes through sharing life goals. To avoid growing apart after marriage, figure out what you're living for while you're single and then find someone who independently came to the same conclusion as you.

A soul mate is really a goal mate -- two people who ultimately share the same understanding of life's purpose and therefore share the same priorities, values and goals.

The majority of marriages today end in divorce. Those who answer "yes" to each of these 3 questions have a good chance in succeeding to build a happy marriage. Those who cannot answer "yes" to all 3 questions are likely entering a marriage that will leave them disappointed, unhappy and single again.


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Torah Portion of the week

Chayei Sarah, Genesis 23:1 - 25:18

Sarah dies at the age of 127. Avraham purchases a burial place for her in Hebron in the cave of Ma'arat HaMachpela. Avraham sends his servant, Eliezer, back to the "old country," his birthplace Charan, to find a wife for Yitzhak (Isaac). Eliezer makes what appear to be very strange conditions for the matrimonial candidate to fulfill in order to qualify for Yitzhak. Rivka (Rebecca) unknowingly meets the conditions. Eliezer succeeds in getting familial approval, though they were not too keen about Rivka leaving her native land.

Avraham marries Keturah and fathers six more sons. He sends them east (with the secrets of mysticism) before he dies at 175. Yitzhak and Ishmael bury Avraham near Sarah in the Ma'arat HaMachpela, the cave Avraham purchased in Hebron to bury Sarah. The portion ends with the listing of Ishmael's 12 sons and Ishmael dying at age 137.

* * *

Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

"He (Isaac) married Rebecca, she became his wife, and he loved her (Gen. 24:67).

Why does the Torah relate that first she became his wife and then tell us that he loved her?

What often passes for "love" in western civilization is either blind passion, infatuation, or at best, self-love. Neither of these are a basis for an enduring relationship. Passion dissipates fairly soon and self-love may be rather easily frustrated. There is no wonder that the divorce rate is 40% or higher!

The dynamics of a couple "falling in love" is like this: The man sees in this woman a person who he feels can satisfy his emotional needs, and she sees in this man someone who can satisfy her emotional needs. This would seem to be the ideal basis for a lasting relationship, but note -- the man is motivated primarily by his personal interests, and the woman is motivated primarily by her personal interests.

Although, they profess love for each other, the reality is that they each love themselves, and the other is but someone whom they expect will please them. Should anything occur -- the other partner is not pleasing them as they had expected, or if they meet someone who they think can better please them -- the relationship is at risk of falling apart.

In a traditional Jewish marriage, the basis for marriage was the responsibility to establish a family to whom the couple could transmit our heritage. Certainly, the relationship was to provide satisfaction for both partners. However, if the level of satisfaction was not what each might have wished, the basis of the relationship was not weakened, and agreement could more easily be reached. There was a common goal and purpose to the marriage rather that self-seeking interests. This enables the development of a more mature love.

That is why the Torah tells us this order. The love develops after she became his wife. Two people dedicated to a goal, to each other, to the marriage will focus on the good in each other and experience love.


Candle Lighting Times

November 6
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:10
Guatemala 5:14 - Hong Kong 5:26 - Honolulu 5:35
J'Burg 6:09 - London 4:04 - Los Angeles 4:38
Melbourne 7:41 - Mexico City 5:42 - Miami 5:18
New York 4:29 - Singapore 6:32 - Toronto 4:44

Quote of the Week

Love does not consist in gazing at each other,
but in looking outward together
in the same direction
--  Antoine de Saint-Exupry



Happy 29th Anniversary

Dali Gonzalez

Love, Jose


With Deep Appreciation to

Allen & Kimberly Kaplan



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