These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

חיי שרה, Chayei Sarah

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Avi Strausberg

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we learn of three deaths in this week’s parsha, whose very title, חיי שרה, contains the word life.  the first death, is that of sarah, for whose death, avraham wails and cries, seemingly alone in his grief.   in constrast, after avraham’s own death, just pages later, he breathes his last breath, dies, and is gathered to his kin, ויאסף אל עמיו, including the two sons he left behind.  similarly, a few pages after avraham’s death, we learn that his son ishmael, also left this world in a similar way:  he, too, breathes his last breath, dies, and is gathered onto his kin.

sarah’s death, mourned alone by avraham, is different.  she dies with little family to mourn her, in a land that is not her own.  avraham, burdened with the guilt of bringing her to this far-away land, as well as the all-too-recent willingness to sacrifice their son, attempts to mourn her.  the question is, when we are in a strange land, when we are alone, when we are burdened by guilt, how do we mourn the people we’ve lost?  avraham, attaches his guilt unto a plot of land, a proper burial place, that he insists on paying for despite the landowners willingness to release the land for free.  while he and sarah were unable to establish a home, full of kin and warmth while she lived, avraham, in her death, attempts to provide her with an eternal home, one in which he will soon join her just pages later.

there is guilt in death
i brought you here, far from home
me– your burial

may we be surrounded by people that love us, in our living and in our dying,