We Are Put In This World
To Accomplish Virtuous Acts
God's covenant to Isaac. Having
accomplished all this, Abraham is
finally allowed to die at a ripe old
We are told that Abraham lived
to be 175 years old, but it is how he
dies which is most fascinating. The
lipir hat do you need to
employs three verbs and four
accomplish with your
to describe his passage
life? What check list
from this world: "Abraham expired,
can be completed so
and died in good old age, elderly
that you will be satisfied that you
and satisfied, and he was gathered
did what needed to be done, and
to his people" (25:8). According to
that now you can rest assured that
Rabbi David Kimchi, the
others will carry on your
word expired, vayigvah,
legacy? Is there any greater
indicates that Abraham
question than this?
spared from an
Our Torah portion gives
illness and a
a glimpse of how such an
assessment can be made.
Midrash Yalkut Shimoni
The lives of Sarah and
that Abraham was
Abraham draw to a close in
"satisfied" because God
this parshah (Torah por-
gave him a preview of his
tion), which is named
future reward at the- time
euphemistically, "The Life
death. Ramban builds
of Sarah." Even though the
this idea, noting that
death of Sarah is our very
die still grasp-
first subject, there is a
ing for more material
grace to Sarah at the end of
pleasure; whereas the
her life that allows the eye
righteous are shown the
to linger upon her accomplish-
their labors, and relin-
ments and her beauty, rather than
hold on this world with
on her decrepitude and death.
Midrash 721nhuma claims that
Let us dwell upon this insight.
Abraham composed Eshet Chayil,
According to this perspective, our
"The Woman of Valor" (Proverbs
time in this world is simply an
31) in honor of Sarah's many
to accomplish certain
acquire certain things,
This does not diminish the enor-
mity of her loss. The Tanhuma
notes that after Sarah dies, Abraham
nities — some people are born to vir-
is described as zakein, old.
tuous parents who provide a wonder-
Although this word has positive
fill example of wisdom, honesty and
connotations — it may even be an
But we all have beforeius
acronym for zeh kanah chochma,
of Abraham and Sarah.
this man has acquired wisdom —
control the circum-
here Abraham seems weakened by
death any more than
the loss of his wife. She was his
the circumstances of our birth.
crown, his glory, his inspiration;
and now she is gone. Often we see a However, we can prepare to face that
day. Let us try to live like Abraham
person suddenly age when his or
and Sarah, full of grace until the end
her spouse of many years dies, and
of our lives, taking responsibility for
the death of Sarah devastates her
the continuity of Jewish values to the
next generation. ❑
Nevertheless, Abraham finds the
strength to complete his life's work.
Much of the portion dwells on the
details of planning the future — the
purchase of burial plots for the fami-
ly, the identification of a fitting bride
for Isaac and the transmission of
At this point in your life, what
work is complete and what needs
more attention? What new goals
Daniel Nevins is a spiritual leader at
you establish to fill your
Adat Shalom Synagogue. His e-mail
remaining years with purpose?
address is www.rabbinevins.org
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