Chayey Sarah

A while back, a newspaper, 

 interviewed a prominent member 

of a Jewish community on his 

92nd birthday. 

The interviewer said:

 “Most people, when they reach

their 92nd birthday, 

start thinking about slowing down.

 You seem to be speeding up. 

Why is that?”

The Birthday “ Boy “ answered:

 “When you get to 92, 

you start seeing the door begin to close,

and I have so much to do before 

the door closes that the older I get, 

the harder I have to work.”


Something like that is the 

impression we get of Abraham in 

this week’s parsha. 


his constant companion 

throughout their journeys, 

has died. 

He is 137 years old. 

We see him mourn Sarah’s death, 

and then he moves into action.


He engages in an elaborate 

negotiation to buy a plot of land in 

which to bury her. 

And it is not a simple task. 

Abraham makes it clear that he is 

determined to buy land. 

In the event, 

he pays a highly inflated price 

(400 silver shekels) to do so.

The purchase of the cave of 

Machpelah is a highly significant 


because it is recorded in great 

detail and highly legal terminology, 

not just here, 

but three times subsequently in 


Something significant is being 

hinted at here, 

otherwise why mention, 

each time, 

exactly where the field is 

and who Abraham bought it from?


Immediately after the story of land 

purchase, we read:

“Abraham was old, well advanced

in years, and God had blessed

Abraham with everything.” 

Again this sounds like the end of a 


However, here it continues.

Abraham launches into a new 


this time to find a suitable wife for 

his son Isaac, 

who by now is at least 37 years 


Abraham leaves nothing to 


He wants Isaac to have a wife who 

will share his faith and way of life. 


As with the purchase of the field, 

here too, 

the course of events is described 

in more detail than almost 

anywhere else in the Torah. 

Every exchange is recorded. 

The contrast with the story of

the binding of Isaac could not be




almost everything 

-       Abraham’s thoughts, 

-       Isaac’s feelings  

is left unsaid

Here, everything is said. 

-       What are we learning out of this?

-       What is so significant in the way 

all is recalled?

The explanation is simple and 


Throughout the story of Abraham 

and Sarah, 

G-d had promised them two 


children and a land. 

• The promise of the Land is 

repeated no less than 7 times. 

• The promise of children occurs 

4 times. 

Abraham’s descendants will be 

“a great nation,” 

as many as 

“the dust of the earth,” 


“the stars in the sky”; 

he will be the father not of one 

nation but of many.


Despite this, 

when Sarah dies, 

Abraham has not a single inch of 

the land that he can call his own, 

and has only one child who will 

continue the covenant, Isaac, 

currently unmarried. 

Neither promise has been



The extraordinary detail of the two 

main stories in Chayei Sarah

- the purchase of land 


- the finding of a wife for Isaac. 

What did the Torah us to learn of this extraordinary passage?

G-d promises, but we have to act. 

• G-d promised Abraham the land, 

-       but he had to buy the first field. 

• G-d promised Abraham many 


-       but Abraham had to ensure that 

his son was married, 

and to a woman who would share 

the life of the covenant, so that 

Abraham would have, as we say today, 

“Jewish grandchildren.”

Despite all the promises, G-d

does not and will not do it alone. 

-       G-d creates the space for human freedom, 

-       G-d He gives us responsibility, 

-       G-d saved Noah from the flood, 

but Noah had to make the ark. 

-       G-d gave the land of Israel to the people of Israel , 

but they had to fight the battles. 

-       G-d gives us the strength to act, 

but we have to do the deed. 

What changes the world, 

What fulfils our destiny, 

is not what G-d does for us but

what we do for G-d.