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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Chayei Sarah

Parshat Chayei Sarah

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Chayei Sarah                                                         Print Version
24th of Cheshvan, 5782 | October 30, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Lazer Brody
The Gold Ring

There was a family living in Israel whose mother, unfortunately, came down with a severe sickness, which led to her passing. She left four children behind, the youngest being four years old, the eldest, a seventeen-and-a-half year old girl in eleventh grade, a fifteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old boy just months away from his bar mitzvah.

While the father worked long hours, the girl would work very hard, studying in school all day, after which she’d come home and do housework, including cooking, cleaning and doing no less than raising her brothers and sisters who were still at home. The twelve-year-old brother watched with awe how she was a sister and a mother who was so dedicated and would do everything for her siblings, from laundering to baking challah for Shabbos to preparing food for them all week long.

One day, the twelve-year-old boy heard her sigh, as she was working hard in the kitchen, “Hashem, I wish I had a nice gold ring.” The twelve-year-old boy heard this and it went right to his heart. He began saving his money, from birthdays to holidays, and filled up all the money that he could in a jar. Finally, the jar was full, and it was three months before his bar mitzvah. He went to a jewelry store and approached the proprietor, proud of the coins he had accrued and yet timid. “Do you sell gold rings?” asked the boy. “Yes, I do,” replied the owner. “Who do you want to buy a gold ring for?” “I want to buy a gold ring… for my sister,” the boy softly answered, his voice quivering and eyes beginning to moist.

Struck by the boy’s behavior, the owner softened himself. “Son, why are you crying?” “Sir, my mother passed away a year and a half ago, and my sister is seventeen-and-a-half and she acts just like a mother and sister. She works so, so hard. She helps my father and she cooks for us and cleans for us and she wants a gold ring, and I’ve been saving up all my money.” With that, the boy poured the money in the jar onto the counter. He then looked up to the owner, and with a twinkle in his eye, asked, “Is this enough money to buy a gold ring?” “Wait one minute,” said the proprietor, “and I will check.”

Coming back just minutes later with a box, he displayed the different rings he had in stock before the boy and said, “Why don’t you pick out a ring that you think your sister will like.” Selecting one to his liking, he looked up to the owner and said, “Can I afford this ring? It’s beautiful!” The owner gathered together all the coins and put them in a box, without even counting them. “Yes, you can afford this ring.” The owner then took the ring and placed it in a beautiful gift box, the type that someone would give to a fiancée for an engagement, and handed it to the boy. “Go home and give this to your sister,” he said with a smile.

The little boy ran straight home to his sister, and handed her the elegantly wrapped box. “Racheli, look, I got this present for you!” She was amazed. “It’s gorgeous! Where did you get it from?” “At the jewelry store, at the shopping center,” the boy got out, tongue-tied amidst excitement. “The one close, right across the neighborhood.” “It’s beautiful!” she gasped, admiring its beauty and elegance, the likes of which she had never held before. “But where did you get the money for this?” “I saved up my birthday money, my chanukah money, the Purim money I collected and my chore money.” She kissed her brother and thanked him.

She then went right to the jewelry store and approached the owner. “Did a young boy, who would be my brother, come to this store?” The owner replied in the affirmative. “How did my brother pay for this?” “Your brother gave me the coins that were saved up in his jar. “Well, that was five agurot and fifty agurot and one-shekel coins. How could he get enough money for this ring; it must cost hundreds of shekels.” The owner told her, “Young lady, I gave him the ring and that is fine. The ring is yours.” “But he didn’t have nearly enough money to pay for it! How can I take this?”

To this, the owner said something very profound. Don’t ever forget this: “Young lady, there are some things which are purchased with money; and there are some things which are purchased with tears.”

We can’t buy everything with money, but many things we can purchase with our tears. The Midrash tells us that Hashem has a jar of tears, and when that jar fills up, Hashem will build the Beis Hamikdash and bring us Mashiach. When you pray to Hashem from your heart with sincerity and tears, you can believe that Hashem will hear your tears. And if they are not answered the first time, they will be answered the second time; and if not the second time, the third time. But no prayer ever goes to waste.
Always remember that. “There are some things which are purchased with money, and there are some things which are purchased with tears.”

Rabbi Yaniv Meirov
Don’t Regret the Good

Each night we recite the words in the Maariv prayer, “And remove the Satan from before us and from behind us.” We can understand what it means for Hashem to remove the Satan from before us. We’d like to achieve something of spiritual growth, whether it be a mitzvah, davening or otherwise, and the Satan works to prevent us from doing so. But what does it mean to have the Satan behind us?

We know that Avraham Avinu had Ten Tests. Our Sages explain that the first test was hard, the second test was harder, and so on, until the Akeidat Yitzchak, which was the most difficult. Yet the Rabbeinu Yonah writes that the test of the Akeidat Yitzchak wasn’t the final and most difficult test; rather, the passing and burial proceedings of Sarah Imeinu was. The question is why this is a test and why is it so difficult?

After Avraham Avinu successfully passed the test of Akeidat Yitzchak, he returned, only to discover that his wife, whom he loved so much, had passed. And why? Because, as Rashi explains, she heard about the Akeidat Yitzchak. Immediately and viscerally, Avraham could have regrettably thought to himself, “What did I do! Here I carried out this command of Hashem to bring my son up as an offering, but it caused my wife to pass away!” Avraham could have felt remorse over carrying out the command Hashem had just given him regarding the Akeidah.
Yet Avraham Avinu did not have that attitude. When he cried over Sarah, the Torah denotes his tearful sadness with a small “chaf,” a diminished letter, signifying that Avraham’s heartfelt sadness was diminished and devoid of regretful anguish over carrying out the Akeidah and blaming himself for his wife’s passing.

In truth, moreover, it wasn’t because of the Akeidah that Sarah passed away. In order to drive this point home, the Torah repeats in the opening verse, “The life of Sarah,” emphasizing that the full and complete life of Sarah was lived. It would be one hundred and twenty seven years, and no more and no less. The Akeidah did not contribute to her early demise.

We often have a tendency of thinking, “If I could have, would have, should have…” But such an attitude is not the Torah approach when it comes to something good we’ve done and it doesn’t seem to have turned out as we’d like. Whenever we carry out a mitzvah, we shouldn’t regret it afterwards. Many times, we do great things and later we can come to regret our actions. But to the contrary, we should never regret the good things that we do. That is the “Satan behind us,” fueling regret over whatever good we’ve done and wish we hadn’t.

Let us take to heart from the ways of Avraham Avinu, a paragon of doing good and realizing that whatever good he has done is eternal and never meant to be undone with feelings of remorse.

Rabbi Yisroel Majeski
A Match Made in Chevron

In this week’s Parsha, Avraham Avinu deals with Ephron in order to purchase the Me’aras HaMachpeila. What’s notable is that the Gemara (Kiddushin 2a) derives from here that when a man gets engaged to a woman, it can be through money. In relation to the transaction between Avraham and Ephron, the Pasuk states, “The money which I gave you, take from me,” and the Torah later states in the context of marriage, “When a man takes a wife.” The similar use of the word “take” in both Pesukim imply a similarity and connection between the two, which derives the Gemara, is that money can be used to marry a woman, just as it was done in the transaction between Ephron and Avraham.

From all places where we can learn about the parameters of marriage, why do we do so from Ephron? A marriage represents two people coming together to build a home where the Shechina is going to rest, two souls combining to become one, and we learn of this concept from Ephron, who had a bad, stingy way to him and “talked a lot and did a little”? Why of all places is it here that the laws of marriage are taught?

The Bobover Rebbe explains that specifically and only here is there a profound lesson embedded for a successful marriage. When Avraham walked away from this business deal, he felt to himself, “I got the best deal of my life! For just four hundred Shekalim, I purchased the Me’aras HaMachpeila, the burial site of Adam and Chava and the eventual holy, resting place of the Avos and Imahos.” Ephron himself felt afterwards, “I got the best deal of my life! I sold just a simple cave, a plain piece of land, and I was given a huge sum of four hundred Shekalim for it!” Both Avraham and Ephron believed that they got the better end of the deal.

So too, when a man and a woman join together in marriage, they each believe that they got the better deal! “I can’t believe she is my wife! I’m the luckiest man alive!” “I can’t believe he’s my husband! I got the better deal; I’m the luckiest woman in the world!”

The key to marriage is to always see and believe that you got the best deal. When a couple does this, it’s a sure recipe for a great life together.

It’s colloquially been said that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, and the second best time is right now. It’s never too late to prepare for marriage. When we are younger, we want to prepare our middos, and once we are married, it is the opportunity to implement everything which we cultivated and learned to create a fantastic marriage and family together.

But this is not the only message for marriage hidden within this interaction between Avraham and Ephron. The Torah repeatedly uses some form of the word “And he listened” to describe Avraham’s actions in relation to Ephron and those he interacted with. To have a good marriage, you must be a good listener.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach mentioned at the funeral of his wife that he doesn’t need to ask mechillah, forgiveness, from her, because he never fought with her. How could this be? It doesn’t mean that he never disagreed with his wife. Rather, although they disagreed, it never turned into a heated argument. He carefully listened to her, as did she to him, and they arrived at the best solution.

Moreover, Avraham was charged a steep price for the Me’aras HaMachpeila. However, Avraham was mevater, he conceded, because he knew the true value inherent in what he was purchasing. The little, petty fights in a relationship are just not worth it in comparison to building a happy home.

In addition, Avraham spent money. Specifically in the realm of money, sometimes we need to let things go. We know things will cost money and we do it with an appreciation for the value it creates in generating goodwill and happiness within the home.

Lastly, Avraham Avinu’s wife has just passed away, and understandably so, he would be out of sorts and in turmoil, and yet throughout the entire dialogue recorded about the Me’aras HaMachpeila, Avraham speaks in a calm, gentle voice. Avraham carried himself with the right respectful and calming context, even amidst the inner turmoil that was generated by what had just happened to Sarah.

In business and life, we can get very stressed. But when we walk through the doors to our home, we must put everything behind us and carry the right context in that we are entering our home – a special place where the Divine Presence resides.

Avraham Avinu taught us so much. The rest is up to us.

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