December 18, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYEHI. Maqam HIJAZ.

Shabbat Haye Sara - שבת חיי שרה

Maqam HIJAZ

Advanced in Days

ואברהם זקן בא בימים - When Abraham was old (זקן), the Torah also states (Genesis 24:1) that he was "advanced in days" (בא בימים). This redundancy may be written to compliment our patriarch who has lived a life where each "day" mattered. Abraham has lived a meaningful life with the mission of promoting God's values of justice and righteousness throughout the world. With strong ambition, not a single day went by where he wasn't preoccupied with changing people's lives. As his descendants, we owe it to ourselves and to the memory of Abraham to find purpose in life and to infuse meaning into each day of our lives. We should be careful not to waste our time with meaningless routines, but rather attempt to turn each and every day into an opportunity to accomplish something different. This way when we are "old," we will also be "advanced in days" (Beth Torah, 11/26/16).

Hesitation

ויאמר ה׳ אלהי אדני אברהם - The shelashelet is a musical note that looks like a jagged zigzag line on top of a word. This obscure note is one of the rarest cantillation marks throughout the entire Torah. In fact, it is only used on four occasions: in Genesis 19:16, Genesis 24:12, Genesis 39:8, and Leviticus 8:23. It has been suggested that this note is reserved for cases of hesitation and uncertainty. Any time a shelashelet is seen, an explanation is warranted. When Abraham's servant is charged with the mission of finding a wife for Isaac, he does not take immediate action. According to Midrash, the servant, who had a daughter of marriageable age, had a conflict of interest. In Genesis 24:12, the shelashelet is used on top of the word 'Vayomar' (and he said) when he took the first serious step of finding a wife by talking to God. Although he hesitated at first, as the shelashelet may indicate, he ultimately makes the decision not to be selfish and to help his master. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, 11/3/18.

Filling the Void

וינחם יצחק אחרי אמו - Why did Isaac wait until age 37 to start looking for a wife? One suggestion is because there were incredibly high standards for the position of Isaac’s future wife. Firstly, in order to avoid assimilation, Abraham dismisses the prospect of Isaac marrying a local Canaanite woman. In addition, to avoid losing his foothold in the land, Isaac is forbidden to leave Canaan in search of a wife. Because of this difficult criteria, marriage is delayed for Isaac. With the loss of his mother, however, there is a tremendous void in Isaac’s life that needs to be filled. This void, one can imagine, leaves Isaac in a cloud of confusion, despair, and sadness. It is only when Abraham realizes that he needs to pass his blessings onto Isaac that he sends his most trusted servant to Harran in search for a suitable match. After all is said and done, Genesis 24:67 reports that when Ribqah is brought to Sarah’s tent, “Isaac found comfort after his mother.” Beth Torah 11/11/17.  


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