Sedra of the Week: Chayei Sarah

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Sedra of the Week: Chayei Sarah

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

Parshat Chayei Sarah is the Sedra of Jewish continuity.

After the sudden death of Sarah, Avraham busies himself with finding a suitable match for his son, Isaac.

This was perceived as vital for the longevity of the revolution that Avraham and Sarah had set in motion, as Yitzchak was the only one who could be trusted to continue along their path of bringing ethical monotheism to an otherwise idolatrous world.

I find it fascinating that despite – or perhaps because of – their lofty sense of mission, the private lives of our forebears give us deep insights into human nature. In fact, the verse (Bereshit 24:67) says that first Yitzchak married Rivka and then loved her. Shouldn’t it be the opposite?

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch suggests that choice of a marriage partner, like any major life decision, ought to be made on the strength of reason or judgement.

He goes further and explains that any feelings of love that take place before marriage are not ‘true love’, rather they are a natural (and necessary) form of infatuation and excitement.

In his words, “The wedding is not the culmination, but only the beginning of true love.”

True love takes effect after there is a genuine commitment, when a couple develops and grows together through life’s challenges, come what may.

Perhaps this idea marries together the two concepts, showing how one can have lofty aspirations of Jewish continuity together with personal fulfilment.

υ Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures and serves Finchley Federation Synagogue

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