Parashah Chayei Sarah
25 Cheshvan 5780 / November
by Rich Birndorf
Torah: Genesis 23:1-25:18
Haftarah: 1 Kings 1:1-31
Brit Chadashah: John 15:9-13
As a father there are many ways that I show my love towards my children. One of the greatest ways I do this is by making promises and then following through with those promises. Although I admittedly don’t always follow through, I try my best to be consistent. Regardless if this is with my daughters, other family members or friends, I have found that the more I am able to consistently keep my promises the deeper relationship will be.
The onset of the Torah portion tells of the death of Sarah at the age of 127. Abraham responds by purchasing a gravesite, that is the cave of Machpelah and the adjoining field from Ephron the Hittite. The passage continues with a promise made involving a father and his son. Here Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, takes an oath that he will not take a wife for Abraham's son, Isaac, from the Canaanites. Rather, he was to journey to Abraham’s home city of Aram-Naharaim. Once there, Eliezer keeps his promise by coming before G-d in prayer and asking for confirmation that the girl that would come forth to give him and his camels water would be the one Isaac was to marry. Indeed, Rebekah did and said just what the servant had asked G-d. Abraham wanted the best for his son and showed his love for him through the promise he established with his servant. The passage concludes with the telling of the passing of Abraham. His last act again proved his love for his son Isaac as he gave all he had to Isaac.
Likewise a promise from father for his son is found in the Haftarah portion. Here David in his old age fulfills a vow he had made to his wife Bathsheba, that their son Solomon would succeed David as king. However, unbeknownst to David, Adonijah, the king’s oldest living son with the assistance of David’s former allies had already declared himself king. There was a small core group that remained loyal to David including Benaiah, Zadok and Shimei. However, through a well-crafted plan by Nathan, one of David’s most trusted advisors and Bathsheba the kingship of Adonijah was averted and the promise David made by the L-RD was fulfilled. Here King David’s love for not only his son, but his wife as well was demonstrated through the honored vow.
In the Brit Chadashah portion Yeshua states something extraordinary: that He is equating His love for the Father’s love for Him. He explains that just as he abides in the Father’s love by keeping His commandments, we too are to keep Yeshua’s commandments and thereby abide in His love. However, He expands upon this truth by now having us love others in the same manner. Then, this reality is taken to the extreme when it is manifested in our laying down our lives for our friends.
Abraham and David both proved their love for their sons through the keeping of a promise. Since we are not all fathers, nor for that matter not all parents, we are given the opportunity to show our love for other believers as well. This is not a casual love, but one taken to the extreme, laying down our lives for our friends. Do we expect anything less than Him demanding our all?
So, practically how do we do this? First, we are to be men and women that keep our promises. If there is something that we believe G-d wants us to do for Him, is there urgency to do so? Or is there some sinful action that we need to put away but, hold on because we love ourselves more than Him? When we tell others that we’re going to pray for them, do we do it or do we put it off and forget? Do we promise our time and resource, but later backtrack because we determine we’re overburdened or do we follow through with our commitments? Second, is our love sacrificial by putting others needs above our own. The more our focus is on Him and what he’s done for us, the more likely we are to love Him and others and put that love into action.