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Chayei Sarah 5771

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

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! A young religious man, Shmuel, lived with his wife and children in an apartment in a poor section of Jerusalem. One day a non-religious brash, bullying hoodlum, Moshe, moved into his building with his wife and family. When Shmuel realized how quick to anger and how violent Moshe was, he called together his kids. "Listen up. If you love your father and don't want to be orphans, then you always play nicely with Moshe's children and NEVER ever ever get into an argument or fight with them!"

Every Shabbat Shmuel would send a pot of cholent (a hot dish with meat, potatoes and beans) to Moshe's family. After six months Moshe asked Shmuel if he could bring his family to eat with Shmuel's family on Shabbat eve. Scared to say no, but quivering at what might happen, Shmuel said, "Sure!" Moshe and his wife came with the children who were clean, dressed nicely for the occasion and well-behaved.

A few weeks later Moshe asks Shmuel, "Would it be OK if I came to synagogue with you? It's been a long time since I was in a synagogue. When they got there Moshe asked Shmuel to show him where they were in the siddur (prayer book) during the service. Shmuel taught Moshe the siddur and soon Moshe and his family were regularly coming to services.

After several more months Moshe koshered his home and started sending his kids to a religious school. Right before Yom Kippur Moshe knocked on Shmuel's door and asked to come in. With tears in his eyes he says, "How can I thank you? Without you I'd still be living the wild and violent life I used to lead. You've saved my life!" And then he threw his arms around Shmuel and gave him a big hug.

Shmuel later told a friend, "Look at what happened! He thanked me for saving his life - and all I wanted to do was to save MY life!"

When the Jewish people stood at Mt. Sinai and accepted the Torah from the Almighty, part of our covenant with the Almighty is that we are responsible for each other - to help each other with our needs, to help each other improve, especially with our connection to the Almighty, the Torah and the Jewish people.

The Torah and Talmud teach us that all Jews are guarantors for each other, we are responsible for each other - "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your fellow man" (Leviticus 19:16), "You shall correct your fellow man" (Leviticus 19:17).

No matter what level we are on in our observance of Torah and mitzvot, there are people we meet every day who are Jewish and have no idea of the beauty, meaning and pleasure they can have for themselves and their families from the 3,500 years of wisdom of our heritage. Nine out of ten Jews are unaware that Judaism will make their lives more pleasurable and meaningful.

Why don't we reach out? Three reasons: (1) There's not another moment in the day - no time! (2) What would I say? I have no idea what to say or do. (3) It's not my personality - I'm more introverted.

So, what can you do? Here are some ways to ignite the spark in others:

  • Excite them, by sharing what excites and inspires you about Torah.
  • Show them the wisdom that Torah principles bring to relationships.
  • Love your neighbor and be a friend. Call, send a gift or go out for a coffee!
  • Use books, tapes, CD's and more to encourage them to read and discover.
  • Invite them to experience Shabbos, or connect them with a family who can.
  • Introduce them to inspirational websites (, downloads, films and articles.

For additional ideas and specifics, go to - the official website of Project Inspire, a website developed to help Jews who wish to share the pleasure they get from a Torah way of life. And ... you can always subscribe a friend to the Shabbat Shalom email edition at .

For more on "Reaching Out" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week
Chayei Sarah

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
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Avraham asked his trustworthy servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer journeys to Aram Naharayim, taking ten camels with him. Upon approaching the town, he neared a well and prayed to God:

"Let it come to pass that the maiden to whom I shall say: 'Incline your pitcher that I may drink,' and she shall say, 'Drink and I will give your camels to drink also,' she you have appointed for your servant, for Isaac; and thereby shall I know that you have shown kindness to my master" (Gen. 24:14).

Eliezer, the devoted servant of Avraham, had learned from his great master to appreciate the profound significance of helping others. Chesed is not merely a kind act, but a manifestation of one's belief in God. Doing chesed is an act of emulating Him whose kindness is without bounds.

Eliezer realized that the woman who would be deemed worthy of becoming a mother of the Jewish people must be the paragon of chesed. He therefore fashioned an appropriate test for determining the bride of Isaac to find someone who loved to do chesed, to help others and try to save them from bother under all circumstances.

And what happened? Rivka ran of her own volition to water the ten thirsty camels - an act which she was not even asked to perform. This act of chesed indicated that she was worthy of being Avraham's daughter-in-law. Remember to look for kindness in choosing a spouse!


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May the best of your todays
be the worst of your tomorrows!


With Special Thanks
to Special Friends

Leonard & Barbara Wien


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