PARSHAT CHAYEI SARAH
Rabbi Samuel Barth
After the many narratives that explore deeply the life of Abraham and his family, we find in this portion an interlude in which the focus is upon Abraham's elder servant-not named in our text, but often assumed to be Eliezer (mentioned in Gen. 15:2). Eliezer has been charged by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac-not from the local (Canaanite) population, but from Aram, the place of Abraham's birth.
Let us pass over the deep and troubling questions of broad context: Why does Abraham not do this himself? Why does he not engage directly with Isaac-perhaps the two of them might make the journey together? In fact, the Torah records no occasion after the binding of Isaac on the mountain when father and son are together-until Isaac and Ishma'el come together to bury their father.
After accepting the task from Abraham, Eliezer prepares and sets out on the long journey, arriving at the city of Nahor (Gen. 24:10). And then we reach a moment (Gen. 24:12) when he . . .
My own writing pauses, for here we have a small puzzle of language, and religious behavior leaps across the millennia to our own challenges and inner life. The Hebrew word is vayomar, which would normally be translated as "and he said." This is what we find in the contemporary translation of the JPS version (in our humash Etz Hayim) and in a number of other translations. But in the translations by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan and a number of others, the word vayomar is rendered as "and he prayed."
The rendering is not unreasonable if we look at the rest of the passage:
And he said/prayed: "YHVH (Adonai, Lord), God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with my master Abraham. Here I stand by the spring as the daughters of the townsmen come out to draw water; let the maiden to whom I say, 'Please lower your jar that I may drink,' and who replies, 'Drink, and I will also water your camels,' let her be the one whom You have decreed for your servant Isaac. Thereby shall I know that You have dealt graciously with my master."
Now, there have certainly been moments when Abraham spoke with God-most famously in the impassioned debate about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah-but there is no moment that it would occur to us to say that Abraham "prayed." Jacob, when on the run from the vengeance of his brother, Esau, makes a vow to offer God a 10 percent "deal" (tithe) on any wealth that he might accrue if his life is spared (Gen. 28:20).
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These words of Torah were taken from The JTS Torah Commentary archive:
|May Their Memories Be For a Blessing
10/24/2013 (20 Heshvan)
Naomi Lillian Markowitz
Irving A. Rubin
10/25/2013 (21 Heshvan)
10/26/2013 (22 Heshvan)
10/28/2013 (24 Heshvan)
10/29/2013 (25 Heshvan)
Fara Caplan Baer
10/31/2013 (27 Heshvan)
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BOOK CLUB NIGHT at the Book Fair.
Monday, November 11th, 7:30 p.m.
West Bloomfield JCC
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Friday, October 25th
6 p.m. Minha/Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv, Chapel
Saturday, October 26th
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10 a.m., Youth Room for ages 12 and under.
Kiddush Lunch today is sponsored by an anonymous donor.*
We warmly welcome Nelson and Shelly Wolf, parents of Amy and Rabbi Mark Robbins, and of course grandparents of Adina and Coby who are visiting with us this Shabbat. B'rucheem Ha'ba-eem!
Our Monthly SHABBAT SHIUR series begins today.
Shabbat Shiur 12:45-1:45, Chapel followed by minha.
Rabbi Robbins will speak on the Laws of Mourning. All are welcome.
Future Dates: 11/29, 12/28, 1/25, 2/22, 3/29, 5/10, 6/21.
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MUSICAL SHABBAT WITH LEE EPSTEIN
NOVEMBER 8TH AND 9TH.
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
Upcoming Shabbat Youth Activities
Supervised Youth Activities, Room 3, lower level
Shabbat mornings, 10-11:45 a.m. for ages 12 and under
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JUNE 7 YOUTH SHABBAT
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SHABBAT TEEN ACTIVITIES
D'VAR TORAH COCOA CAFE, for ages 13-17
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Saturday, December 14th
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Sunday, October 27th
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"Reflections on the Siddur," with Dr. Mitch Parker
Saturdays, 11-11:45 a.m.
November 9, 23 December 7, 14
Mitch will focus on Ashrei, Aleinu, the Kaddish, Adon Olam, Yigdal, Hallel and Birkat Hamazon.
Class meets in the lower level, Room 9.
Shabbat Shiur Series
Shabbat Afternoons, last Saturday of the month following lunch and prior to minha. Shiur (class) will meet in the chapel. All our welcome. There is no charge to attend.
October 26 "The Laws of Mourning," Rabbi Mark Robbins
Future Dates: November 30, December 28, January 25th, February 22nd. Guest teachers include Joel Goldstein, Rabbi Norman Roman, Hillel Buechler, Jeff Lasday (Alliance for Jewish Education), Steve Freedman, and Michael Wolf.
24 Steven Dines
25 Ruby Robinson
26 Stacy Gittleman
28 Edith Wolok
29 Libby Beider
29 Adina Robbins
30 Philip Epstein
31 Benjamin Chudnow
31 Yael Duer
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