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Chayei Sarah - Stochel Family

10/23/2013 07:11:12 AM




Parshas Chayei Sarah begins by telling us of Sarah Imeinu'sdeath and how Avraham came to eulogize her and to cry for her(Breishit 22:2).

It seems as if the order is switched around. Wouldn't it make more sense to first cry over her death, a natural reaction to the shock and dismay over hearing the news of the death of his beloved, and then eulogize her?  In fact, we learn in the Gemara(Moed Katan 27b), that the period of mourning starts with three days of crying and then seven days for eulogizing.  So why does the Torah go out of its way to mention that Avraham eulogized Sarah and then cried for her?


Many commentators on the Torah, such as the Rambam, speak of the 10 tests that Hashem gave Avraham to prove his worthiness to be the patriarch of the Jewish people.  Each succeeding test came with an increasing level of difficulty.  It would then make sense that most agree that the final, most difficult of these tests was Akeidas Yitzchak, Avraham'swillingness to sacrifice his beloved son.  However, RabeinuYonah disagrees.  He believes that Akeidas Yitzchak was only the 9th test and that the final test was the burial of his wife Sarah.  On the surface, this seems a bit strange.  Why wouldRabeinu Yonah break ranks with everyone else and put the burial of Sarah as a more difficult test than the Akeida?


To get some insight into these questions, let's try to understandAvraham's state of mind when he came back from the Akeida.  It was a very stressful and emotional experience for Avraham.  When he returned he must have been in such a spiritual high, ready to share the great news with his wife Sarah, only to findout that she had died.  This must have been a tremendous blow to Avraham.  To add insult to injury, he had to endure a frustrating negotiation with Efron over the purchase of MaharasHamachpelah.  By every right, Avraham could have cried out to Hashem and complained "enough is enough" or even to take out his frustration on Efron and demand that he deal with him in an upright manner.  Yet with all this adversity, Avraham conducted himself in a "menshlech" manner, showing us how we are to behave no matter how difficult life has been to us.


On the surface, the Akeida seems like the most difficult challenge, but as a commandment from Hashem the choice for atzaddik like Avraham seems obvious: do what Hashem commands you to do.  But to deal with the normal every day challenges of life without letting your frustrations take over; that is a true test of a tzaddik and an example to all of us as to how to conduct our lives.


We can see this example followed by other tzaddikim.  WhenRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach's wife passed away, he was in the hospital trying to deal with his great loss.  A student of his, whose wife had just given birth, was also in the same hospital.  When he saw his Rosh Yeshiva, unaware of his loss, he was so excited he came to give him his great news of having a child.  Rav Auerbach gave him a bracha and wished him well with his unique smile and good nature he was known for, as if it were just any other day.  He did not want to let his own personal situation interfere with the joy and happiness of his student.  This is very much in the same way Avraham dealt with his loss of Sarah.


This could explain why Avraham eulogized Sarah first and they cried for her. Avraham saw it as his duty to first think of his wife Sarah before his own needs.  He felt it was more important to pay respects to the Matriarch of the Jewish people and expound on her virtues, for the sake of others to follow in her footsteps.  Once that was complete, Avraham was able to fulfill his own personal need to cry over her.  That also explains why in the Torah, the כ in ולבכותה (to cry over her) is smaller than all the other letters.


This is the ultimate test of a true tzaddik, one that Avrahampassed with flying colors.  It should be an example to us all that no matter how difficult times might be, we should always strive, no matter how hard it might be, to not let our anger get the better of us.


This d’var torah was adapted from Rabbi Yissocher Frand’sRabbi Frand on the Parshah.


Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780