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    Life cycles – Chayyei Sarah

    Abraham weeps for Sarah, by Marc Chagall

    Abraham weeps for Sarah, by Marc Chagall

    Two major life cycle events figure in this sidra – death and marriage.

    Sarah dies and Abraham buries her in the cave of Machpelah; Eliezer finds a wife for Isaac, and Rebekah and Isaac marry and set up home together.

    Both events are decisive for family and human history.

    If you choose a marriage partner well, you reap the reward of happiness and if you have progeny they determine your destiny. If your death follows a life dedicated to wisdom and decency, you leave behind the mark of having enriched the human race.

    Both events also involve aloneness. Concerning marriage, the Torah begins with the statement, “It is not good for a man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Man needs company and community.

    Concerning death, Franz Rosenzweig points out that this is the decisive moment of aloneness. Other people can be by your side and hold your hand, but death itself is a step that you have to take on your own.

    Yet it does not have to be the sort of loneliness that makes one frightened. In its own way death is also a time for company and community – with God.

    The Bible says, echoed by the final line of Adon Olam, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31:6).

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