Thursday, November 20, 2008

much needed dvar torah

I'm gonna try and "elevate" the mood on MM for this Shabbos.

We're reading my favorite Parsha this week - Chayei Sarah.

Why is this one my fave?
a) Because it's a story, and I love stories. Don't get me wrong - the dinim sections of the Chumash have good stuff too, but they're not as romantic;
b) it's the one parsha we seemed to learn a lot about in school; and
c) it deals with real people and real life situations. (life, death, dating, marriage, remarriage).

It's also a fave because this is the Parsha where Avraham buys Me'arat HaMachpela - in my opinion, one of the most interesting and strange places in Israel today.

Another reason why I love this parsha? Because it demonstrates the importance of women in Judaism. (i'm def not a bra-burning feminist, but it's nice to know that yiddishkeit is relatable to me as well).

Rabbi Yissocher Frand wrote an interesting Dvar Torah that I want to share with you.
(I've tried to shorten it a bit! For the full speil, click here:


The Midrash says that Sarah's name was changed from Sarai to Sarah (meaning officer/ruler/princess) to show her being given dominion over the entire world. But if you look at Sarah's life it doesn't exactly seem like she had that much power over.

She was taken captive by Pharoah and then Avimelech. For 90 years, she was barren.

Rav Nissan Alpert suggests that in spite of everything, Sarah did rule over the entire world. A person who can maintain her equilibrium, her serenity and faith, in spite of the events that surround and effect her is indeed a person who "rules over the entire world".

We cannot change the course of events. There are things that happen to people every day that we cannot control - death, war, natural disasters. That's what life is about.

So if there is so much that we cannot change - how do we 'rule'? Only by maintaining one's serenity and equilibrium throughout it all.

That is what the life of Sarah was. For a woman to remain barren for 90 years and experience so many the trials and tribulations was not a simple matter. And yet we see the same Eishes Chayil [woman of valor], the same Ba'alas Chessed [personality of kindness], the same Matriarch Sarah throughout. This is indeed a person who ruled over the entire world.

The Midrash also says the following: "Let Esther the granddaughter of Sarah who lived for 127 years come and rule over 127 provinces." What's the connection?

Esther also had a life of trials and tribulations. Esther had a life that could have been influenced by events that happened to her. She was an orphan. She was taken against her will to the palace of the King...

Esther could have forsaken her people in exchange for the success and the fame that she was receiving. However, Esther remained rock solid in her faith. She did not let events shape her life. She maintained herself. Therefore, Esther could rule over 127 provinces -- virtually the entire known world at that time.

If a person has learned the secret of not letting external events shape his or her life and rather maintains an internal serenity in spite of those events, that person has in fact achieved a great degree of control.

Something to think about.

Have a GREAT Shabbos!


The Babysitter said...

have a good shabbos, glad you wrote a parsha post, I'll take a better look at it tomorrow.