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Parashat Chaye Sarah - 5777

Dear friends,

This week's Parasha begins with the passing of Sarah at the age of 127. She died in the city of Hebron and "Abraham came to mourn for Sarah". It seems that this happened shortly after the story of the Binding of Isaac, which was the last episode in last week's Parasha. Abraham purchases a cave and a field in Hebron known as "Mearat Hamachpelah" and buries Sarah there. This will be the burial place for our patriarchs and matriarchs.

Following Sarah's passing, Abraham is concerned about the future of his family and who will be Isaac's wife. Abraham does not want his son to marry a Canaanite woman, so he sends his servant back to Aram to find a bride from among Abraham's relatives. He makes his servant promise by an oath that he will do so, and that he will be released from this oath only if the girl form his country refuses to leave her family and come to Canaan. But under no circumstances is Isaac permitted to leave Canaan.

Eliezer, Abraham's servant, takes many gifts with him and loads them on ten camels. He arrives in the city of Nahor in Aram and stops to rest by the well near the city. The Torah describes in detail his prayer for divine providence in helping him find the right girl for Isaac. His test is as follows: He will stand by the well and ask a girl to give him a drink from her jar, and if the girl should respond "Here, drink, and I will also water your camels," that will be the girl that G-d has chosen for Isaac.

You know the rest of the story. Rebecca, who is Isaac's cousin, comes by the well. She gives him a drink and runs back and forth with her jar filling the trough until all ten camels have had their fill.

There is a beautiful teaching in the Talmud that says, "Emor Me-at, Va-asseh Harbeh" - "Say little, but do much". We find this quality in Abraham when he invited the three men to come by his tent and that he would give them 'a little water and some bread', yet he prepared a full banquet for them. In this story, Rebecca agrees to give a drink to Eliezer as he has requested, but goes on to provide water for all his camels - a tremendous undertaking for a girl since a camel drinks 20-25 gallons at one time. So for ten camels that's 200 to 250 gallons that she ran to and from the well to fetch without a break.

In Abraham and in Rebecca we see this value of Chesed, kindness, that goes beyond all expectations. They go overboard in fulfilling the Mitzvah of kindness to people and to animals. Observing Rebecca's behavior, Eliezer is certain that this is the girl for Isaac, as she fits perfectly in Abraham's family, the man who promoted Chesed, kindness and hospitality to all.

As we celebrate the Festival of Thanksgiving, we acknowledge and thank G-d for all the acts of Chesed that He has bestowed upon us.

Have you done some acts of Chesed today? Remember: "Say little, but do much."

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram