Thursday, November 16, 2006

Parshas Chayei Sara

“Sarah died in Kiryas Arba, which is Chevron, in the land of Canaan. Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her.”

In the Torah, the Hebrew word for weep (Livkosah) is spelled with a small Chuf. These things aren’t random and there is certainly something to be learned from the fact that it is small. Rashi tells us that the reason Sarah’s death was juxtaposed to the wholes story of Akeidas Yitzchak is to tell us that Sarah died upon hearing about the binding of her dear son. The Medrash Tanchuma tells us that the Satan came in the form of Yitzchak to his mother, and he explained to Sarah the process of the binding, and upon hearing such news, she passed out and died. It seems that if the Satan wouldn’t have come in the form and Yitzchak and told her the story, she would’ve lived. But the Or haChaim haKadosh says differently. He says that Sarah was really meant to live only 127 years, and if this wouldn’t have happened, she would’ve died by another means. The reason she died wasn’t because of the Satan, but rather because G-d wanted her to live 127 years, and orchestrated this as the way she was going to die. It’s very easy to think that often times people do the right thing (ie, the Akeidah), but less than favorable results sometimes happen as a result. The lesson of the Or haChaim is that they aren’t linked; G-d ordains people live X number of y ears, and if the person wouldn’t die from this reason, they would still die by another means.

The Koheles Yitzchak echoes this notion, but first brings a Gemara in Kiddushin as support. The gemara there is discussing a person that was a tzadik/righteous his whole life, but falls off the derech at the end of his life. First, the gemara suggests that the bad that the person does completely negates all of the good that a person does. This is tough to swallow, and the conclusion of the gemara is that this is only the case when one becomes so bad that they actually REGRET the good that they did previously. This is one of the two ways that the Satan works. Before one does a mitzvah, the Satan tries to prevent us from doing that mitzvah; but afterwards, the Satan tries to get us to REGRET that which we have just done. Some explain that this is what the words in the paragraph of Hashkiveinu are telling us when it says “V’hasair satan milfaneinu u’m’achamreinu”; remove both courses of action of the Satan, both before and after we do the mitzvah. Concludes the Koheles Yitzchak: this is why the Torah put a small Chuf in the word “to wail/cry/livkosah”, to teach us that Avraham cried, but only a little bit. And why did he only cry a little bit? So that those who saw him in mourning wouldn’t think that he was SO upset that he actually REGRETTED his actions – the Akeidah. Avraham was operating in a “L’sheim shamayim” fashion, and he therefore had nothing to regret.

We’re constantly faced with decisions before us. Shall we do that which we know is correct, or shall we do that which we know is not correct, but our Yetzer is telling us we want to do. When we choose the latter, it makes us feel good. However, the temporary euphoria is usually followed by regret for that which we have done. When one consistently chooses the former, and knows that he/she is fulfilling the ratzon Hashem, there will be nothing to regret.

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