Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parshat Chayei Sarah

You can read the basics here.

Here's my 2010 post on Chayei Sarah (with links). Here's my 2004 version.

And here's a thought from my Parshat Vayera: Something old, something new:

" why does Sarah disappear from the text? Where is her reward for having ensured the perpetuation of Avraham's lineage by offering her handmaid as a surrogate mother? Where is her reward for having waited over a decade after the birth of her handmaid's son to have a son of her own? Where is her reward for having saved Avraham's life twice--and enriched him in the process--by allowing herself to be passed off as only his sister and not his wife? Her reward is to have G-d, with her husband's cooperation, threaten the life of her only child? My own midrash: No wonder she dies in the next parshah--if this is her reward, why live?"

Some new thoughts:
  • I don't remember where I heard or read this, but someone commented that Avraham showed more respect for Sarah after her death than he'd shown for her while she was alive. Sadly, I think one could make a case (see B'reishit/Genesis, chapter 23) for that.
  • In B'reishit/Genesis, chapter 24, verse 16, Rachel (Sat., Nov. 10, 2012 post-Shabbat correction--Rivkah) is described as "b'tulah, v'ish lo y'daah," a virgin, and no man had "known" her. Is this just an example of what's sometimes called "biblical parallelism" (and might less poetically be known as the Bible's tendency to repeat itself?), or is it true, as I've heard, that "b'tulah" really means simply a woman who's never been married?
  • Why did Rachel fall (va-tipol) off of her camel when she saw Yitzchak/Isaac (see 24:64)? Was he really that good-lookin'? :)
Update, Saturday, November 19, 2011, 9:13 PM
  • Rachel (Sat., Nov. 10, 2012 post-Shabbat correction--Rivkah) fell off her camel before she inquired as to the identity of the man whom she saw in the field. Was it customary in the ancient Near East for a woman to dismount from her "ride" in the presence of a man of her own social class?
  • Interestingly, much of the story of Rachel's (Sat., Nov. 10, 2012 post-Shabbat correction--Rivkah) encounter with Avraham's servant would be, for all practical purposes, impossible in current Chareidi (fervently Orthodox) society, in which, especially for an unmarried person, speaking to just about any person of the opposite gender other than one's parent is considered scandalous behavior.


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