Man has an innate desire to make a name for himself. The fear of being forgotten is a fear that grips us all. For many, this serves as a key stimulus to have children (and in many cultures, specifically male children) who will carry on the family legacy. This desire not to be forgotten motivates some to write books, some to build monuments and even some to enter public life, hoping to attain some measure of immortality.
"The discussions of the servants of our patriarchs are more beloved than the Torah of their children” (Rashi, Breisheet, 24:22).
Sixty seven verses. That’s how much space the Torah devotes to the story of finding the proper mate for Yitzchak. There is no more important decision than that of whom - or whom not - to marry. The Torah not only tells the story of the servant of Avraham finding a suitable mate to carry on the legacy of Abraham and Sarah, it repeats the entire story with subtle but significant differences of the “courtship” of Rivka.
"And Abraham took another wife and her name was Keturah" (Breisheet 25:1). The Torah follows by listing the six children they had together, along with some of their offspring, discusses Abraham's division of his assets--he was, we must recall, a very wealthy man--before his death, his death and burial, concluding with a listing of the children of Yishmael. Yet it is not clear what this adds to the covenantal narrative.
“And Yitzchak brought her to the tent of his mother; and he took Rivka, and she was for him a wife, and he loved her; and Yitzchak was consoled after his mother” (Breisheet 24:67).
The contrast between the description above with that of Yaakov meeting his wife could not be more striking. “And when Yaakov saw Rachel, the daughter of Lavan, the brother of his mother...and Yaakov came forward, and he moved the stone from atop the rock...and Yaakov kissed Rachel, and he lifted his voice and he cried” (29:11).
This week's dvar torah is being sponsored by Nolene and David Maresky and family in memory of Rina and Shim Maresky, and Jack Epstein z"l.
Our patriarchs and matriarchs did not have easy lives. Each faced problems of famine, of wandering from place to place, of foreign rulers, and of course, problems with their children. Our founding mothers and fathers often disagreed, sharply at times, on the most basic of decisions relating to the raising of their families. The dispute between Abraham and Sarah as to the place of Yishmael in their household was so fierce that G-d had to intervene, instructing Abraham to listen to Sarah (whose insight was apparently much better than her husband's).
"And Sarah lived one hundred years, twenty years and seven years; these are the years of Sarah's life”(source).
A famous rabbinic comment elucidating the triple expression of years teaches that Sarah maintained her stunning beauty, intuitive wisdom and sinless innocence throughout her life. Furthermore, the seemingly superfluous ending of the verse “these are the years of Sarah’s life” teaches, in the words of Rashi, that her years "were all equally good".