Chayei Sarah 5778
Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18 )
GOOD MORNING! Life is full of stress -- paying bills, the job, one's spouse and kids ... and it goes on from there! How do we deal with stress? Of course, there is the obvious -- eating healthy food, exercising, getting 8 hours of sleep. (I recently read that if you don't get 8 hours of sleep that it cuts 7 years off of your life span -- I wonder, how do they figure that out?)
Meditation can also be a big help. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide -- which you may wish to pick up. Even slow breathing -- big breaths in through the nose, hold it in your lungs for a few seconds and then out through the mouth, will help!
Then there is one's attitude in life and on life. I came across the following little poem which would probably look good on your refrigerator...
Life has its challenges and how we deal with them determines our level of stress. We all believe in and rely on something -- our intelligence, our power, our connections, our money ... or God. King David wrote in Psalm 20, "There are those who trust in their chariots and those who trust in their horses, but we call out in the name of the Almighty." From a Jewish point of view, you can really only rely on the Almighty; all else will ultimately fail us without the help of the Almighty.
Here is a meditation from My Father, My King -- Connecting with the Creator by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. Reading it out loud will not only help calm the nerves, it will help connect to your Creator -- which is the prime goal of life.
Hear your Father, your King, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, saying to you:
"Everything that I cause to happen in your life is for your ultimate benefit.
"Trust in My absolute love and concern for your total welfare. Your view of life is limited. Some things you will recognize immediately as beneficial; in other situations, you will need to wait a bit before recognizing that the event was for your good. And with some occurrences in life, only upon entering the next world will you see how whatever happened was for your benefit.
"Your awareness that My love for you is total and that everything which took place is for your good, will enable you to experience much joy throughout your life. This awareness will free you from a great deal of pain and suffering. Even when pain and suffering are inevitable, the realization that it is for your ultimate benefit will make it easier to bear.
"I have given you free will. You can choose to view your life in ways that will cause you unnecessary suffering, distress, and misery. As your loving Father, I want you to realize that all the events in your life are positive. Eventually, you will see this for yourself, but the earlier you do so, the more joy you will experience."
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.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah portion begins:
"And the life of Sarah was one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years. These were the years of the life of Sarah."
Why does the Torah, which does not waste words, add the seemingly repetitive verse, "These were the years of the life of Sarah"?
Rashi, the quintessential commentator, informs us that the message from the repetitive phrase is that all of the years of Sara's life were equally good. How is it possible to say this about Sarah's life? For many years she was childless; she experienced famine and exile; she was taken captive by the Pharaoh of Egypt and later by Avimelech.
Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli explained that Sarah mastered the attribute of constantly saying, "This too is for the good." Even those events that others might consider to be bad, she was aware that they were from the Almighty and therefore she was able to evaluate them as positive.
The quality of one's life is not dependent on external situations. There are people whose lives seem to run quite smoothly. Nevertheless, they tend to evaluate minor frustrations as tragedies and therefore view their lives in negative terms. The Torah ideal is to be aware that the purpose of your life is to perfect your character. Every life situation is an opportunity for growth. Sarah mastered this level of consciousness. Therefore, at the end of her life, which was constantly devoted to growth, it could be said about her that all her years were good.
This lesson is most important for us to internalize. See the growth possible in every life event. In each difficult situation ask yourself, "How can I become a better person because of what happened?"
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:13 - Hong Kong 5:24 - Honolulu 5:33
J'Burg 6:13 - London 4:00 - Los Angeles 4:35
Melbourne 7:46 - Mexico City 5:41 - Miami 5:16
New York 4:24 - Singapore 6:32 - Toronto 5:41
"The longer I live, the more I realize
the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me,
is more important than facts. It is more important
than the past, than education, than money, than
circumstances, than failures, than successes,
than what other people think or say or do. It is more
important than appearances, giftedness or skill.
The remarkable thing is that we have a choice
every day regarding the attitude we will embrace
for that day. We cannot change our past ... we cannot
change the fact that people will act in a certain way.
We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing
we can do is play out the one string we have and
that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10%
what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
-- Charles Swindoll