Divrei Torah

PARSHAS CHAYEI SARAH 5780

This week’s Parsha begins with the funeral of Sarah and the preparations for her funeral. The Torah teaches us that Sarah lived 127 years. Then it writes, “and Avraham came to eulogize Sarah  and to cry for her.” If you take a look at a Torah scroll, you will notice something different about the word “and to cry for her – V’livkosah”. The letter Kof in the word “V’livkosa” is written smaller than the other letters. Whenever there is something unusual in the Torah, it begs us to ask “why?”. So, the question here is: why is the letter Kof written differently than all the other letters?

Rabbi Shaanan Gelman, the rabbi of the Chovevei Tzion shul in Skokie, one of the commentators to the Chumash. G-d did not write the Torah in a random order. One section follows another for a good reason. The portion dealing with the death of Sarah immediately follows the portion that talks about the Akeida – when Avraham was commanded to bring Yitzchak to Mt. Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. A reason for this sequence in parshios is as follows: The Torah tells us that Avraham lifted the knife to sacrifice Yitzchak.

At that point G-d stopped Avraham. The Midrash states that the Satan went to Sarah and told her that Avraham sacrificed Yitzchak – almost. When Sarah heard this news, she died. When Avraham heard about the death of his beloved wife, Sarah, he could have complained, “Sarah died because I went to do a Mitzva. If I had not done this Mitzva, she would still be alive.” So, the Torah writes “and to cry for her” with a small Beis to teach us that Avraham did not cry because he had gone to do the Mitzva, thus causing her death. Rather, he recognized that her death had nothing to do with the Akeida. She lived a full life and her time had come. Avraham cried only because Sarah had died.

The Midrash is teaching us an important lesson. We cannot regret doing a Mitzva. Sometimes, events happen that might upset us because we did the Mitzva. We might say to ourselves, “This would not have happened had I not done the Mitzva.” Well, we cannot say such a thing. Our obligation is to do the Mitzvos. What happens outside the realm of the Mitzva is not our department. 

What would happen if a person went to do a chesed and on the return trip, G-d forbid, had a car accident? Should the person say to himself, “If I had not done the chesed, I would not have had the accident? Absolutely not! You cannot feel bad for doing a Mitzva. We might view the accident as a result of the Mitzva. However, in reality the accident had nothing to do with the Mitzva.

On some occasions we might be short of a minyan. So, we call some people. After the calls are made, other people show up. Finally, when the called people come, we may have 12 to 15 people in shul. Perhaps we should feel bad for having troubled them to come to shul. But, then we can think to ourselves, We helped them perform a Mitzva. They davened with a minyan.   Why should we feel bad? We did them a big favor.

The lesson from the midrash is that we should not confuse what happens in the world with what we are supposed to do. It should not prevent us from doing our job – learn Torah and perform mitzvos. That is how we show that we are true descendants of Avraham and Sarah when we learn the lessons that they taught.