Siddur Avodat Yisrael writes that there is a chapter of Tehilim
which corresponds to each parashah--this week Psalm 45. One
connection to the parashah is verse 14, which serves as a fitting
eulogy for our Matriarch, Sarah (who is buried in this week's
parashah). That verse is, "The complete glory of the princess is
within; surpassing golden settings is her raiment." Chazal tell
us that this verse describes the inborn modesty of Jewish women.
Sarah, in particular, is praised in the Torah for practicing this
trait. (See Bereishit 18:9 and Rashi there.)
R' Samson R. Hirsch z"l writes that this entire chapter of
Tehilim is an ode in honor of an unspecified marriage. The
marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah is the predominant theme in our
Our parashah tells us that after the deaths of Avraham and
Sarah, Hashem found their son Yitzchak to be a fitting successor.
As R' Avraham Halevi Horowitz z"l (father of the Shelah Hakadosh)
wrote in his will: "Fortunate are children who present themselves
with alacrity to obey the words of their parents, and whose
parents rebuke them and teach them to fear G-d and to occupy
themselves with Torah and mitzvot. Regarding the likes of them
we read (verse 17 of our chapter of Tehilim), 'Succeeding your
fathers will be your sons; you will appoint them as leaders
throughout the land'." (Yesh Nochalin)
"She said, "Drink, and I will even water your camels."
"He gave straw and feed for the camels . . . Food was set
before him." (24:32-33)
R' Yehuda He'chassid z"l (1150-1217) writes: If one is faced
with a thirsty person and a thirsty animal, the person should be
given to drink first. This is learned from the first verse
above. We read similarly (Bemidbar 20:8), "You shall give drink
to the assembly and to their animals."
However, continues R' Yehuda, when it comes to food, the order
is the reverse, as we read in the second and third verses above.
It also is written (Devarim 11:15), "I shall provide grass in
your field for your cattle and [then] you will eat."
(Sefer Ha'chassidim No. 531)
What is the reason for this distinction? R' Ephraim Zalman
Margaliot z"l (Poland; 1761-1828) explains that one never knows
whether the only merit by which he is kept alive is that he cares
for animals. Accordingly, one must feed his animals before he
feeds himself. On the other hand, one who does not drink when he
is thirsty may be endangering his life. Therefore, one should
drink before he gives drinks to his animals.
(Yad Ephraim, O.C. 167)
"Hashem blessed Avraham with everything." (24:1)
R' Moshe Sternbuch shlita writes: This means that Avraham
viewed everything that he had as a blessing. Many people have
lots of belongings but they are not happy with what they have.
Some feel that they do not have enough wealth, while others feel
that the specific types of wealth they have are not bringing them
happiness. Avraham did not have these feelings; he was content
with everything he had.
King David wrote (Tehilim 34:11), "Those who fear Hashem will
not lack anything good." The verse does not say that the
righteous will possess everything, R' Sternbuch observes (citing
R' Yishayah Horowitz, the Shelah Hakadosh). Rather, King David
teaches that the righteous will not feel that anything is lacking
because they will be content with what they have.
"Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and li'vkotah/to cry for
In the Torah, the word "li'vkotah" is written with a small
letter "kaf". In this way, the Torah tells us that Avraham did
not cry or mourn excessively for his wife Sarah.
R' Ovadiah Yosef shlita (former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel
and one of the foremost living halachic authorities) elaborates
as follows: Our patriarch Avraham was a prophet. When Sarah
died, Avraham knew that she was in Gan Eden with other righteous
people who had died. Since the sages teach, "One hour in Olam
Haba is more worthwhile than all life in This World/Olam Ha'zeh,"
Avraham had no reason to cry.
Then why did he cry at all? Only because of "what people would
say." In reality, though, we all should recognize that the
deceased is in a better place. This is why we comfort mourners
with the words: "Hamakom ye'nachem etchem . . ."/"May Hashem (who
we refer to as "Makom" because He is everywhere) comfort you . .
." The word "makom" literally means "The Place" - thus we are
saying, "May your knowledge that the deceased is in a good place
(Mi'shiurei HaRishon L'Zion p. 152 )
(Contributed by Daniel Dadusc)
"It was after the death of Avraham that G-d blessed Yitzchak
his son . . ." (25:11)
Rashi writes (quoting Tractate Sotah 14a): Hashem offered
Yitzchak the consolation that one offers to mourners.
R' Gavriel Zinner shlita notes that this is the earliest
reference in the Torah to comforting mourners. Some say that the
mitzvah has the status of a Torah commandment, but Rambam holds
that it is only a rabbinic mitzvah (with a hint in the Torah).
It is written that when a person who has frequently comforted
mourners himself dies, Hashem says to the angels who are
appointed over consolation, "Take his soul to the Garden of Eden,
to joy and gladness, and comfort it." Since this person
comforted mourners during his lifetime, Hashem rewards him
measure-for-measure because he has adopted one of Hashem's
attributes. [Where do we see that this is one of Hashem's
attributes?] It is written (Yishayah 51:12), "It is I, I am He
Who comforts you."
(Nit'ei Gavriel: Nichum Aveilim p. 366)
Letters from Our Sages
The following is paraphrased from the letters of R' Chaim
David Halevi z"l (former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv).
In the letter, published in Aseh Lecha Rav, IV, No. 7, R'
Halevi builds upon the concept presented by Ramban (13th
century), based on the midrash, that all of the events
described in the Book of Bereishit foreshadow the history of
the Jewish people ("ma'aseh avot siman la'banim").
Why does the Torah devote so much space to the purchase of the
Me'arat Hamachpelah"? Ibn Ezra offers two answers, one of which
is that it demonstrates the fulfillment of Hashem's promise that
Avraham would acquire the land of Eretz Yisrael.
Was this Hashem's promise? To the contrary, Avraham paid a
fortune in silver coins to purchase Sarah's burial plot!
With hindsight, and keeping in mind the lesson of "ma'aseh avot
siman la'banim," we can appreciate Ibn Ezra's explanation. The
current resettlement of Eretz Yisrael began, like Avraham's
settlement before it, not with military conquest, but with the
purchase of land at often inflated prices.
The midrash notes that there were three sites in Eretz Yisrael
which our ancestors purchased at or above full market value: the
burial place of the patriarchs in Chevron (by Avraham), the
burial place of Yosef in Shechem (by Yaakov), and the site of the
Bet Hamikdash in Yerushalayim (by King David). What is the
importance of this fact? It is significant because of the
halachah that military conquest cannot extinguish private
property rights. Hashem knew, of course, that in our day these
three sites - Yerushalayim, Chevron, and Shechem - would be
inhabited by non-Jews who would call us thieves. This is why He
caused our ancestors to buy these three sites for money, thus
sealing forever our claim to them. This is also why the Torah
describes the purchase of Me'arat Hamachpelah in such detail.
the Parness family
in memory of
Max Parness a"h