וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

6 11, 2023

Parashat Hayei Sarah 5784

By |2023-11-06T14:09:48-05:00November 6, 2023|

The portion Hayei Sarah, the life of Sarah, reflects more on her death, and how her husband, Abraham, buys land in Canaan to bury her. In fact, Abraham’s purchase of the land, at an exorbitant price, is the first purchase of land in Canaan recorded in the Torah.

14 11, 2022

Parashat Hayei Sarah 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:06:51-04:00November 14, 2022|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

A D’var Torah for Parashat Hayei Sarah
By Rabbi Katy Allen (’05)

Hayei Sarah –
the life of Sarah
tells of her death.
Abraham is old,
nearing his death as well,
and he says to his servant,
I will make you swear—
I, Abraham, will make you,
another human being,
swear an oath unto G!d.
On my deathbed,
I will make you promise.

What right have we
to force someone else
to promise something
in the name of G!d?
Can it really be valid?
Can it really be sound to its core?

And, it’s about finding a wife
for his son, Isaac.
Swear, Abraham says to his servant,
swear in the name of all that is sacred and holy,
that you won’t take a wife for my son
from among these Canaanites,
but that you will go back
to the land of my birth
and find him a wife there.

Why is this command,
with such vehemence,
needed at all?
After all, we are taught Read More >

28 10, 2021

Parashat Hayei Sarah

By |2022-07-29T11:24:16-04:00October 28, 2021|

The Torah portion of Hayei Sarah begins with tragedy. Abraham, dwelling in Beer Sheva, learns that his wife Sarah has died in the city of Hebron, a day’s journey away. He arrives to Sarah’s side “to cry for her and to eulogize her.” (v. 2) But for those who are familiar with traditional Jewish practices regarding care for the deceased, the next sentence makes this tragedy in Abraham’s life even more devastating: “And Abraham arose from the presence of his dead…” (v. 3) Without burial plans already made for his wife, Abraham is forced – in the depth of his grief – to initiate a real estate transaction with his neighbors, the Hittites. The remainder of Genesis Chapter 23 describes these negotiations in exacting detail, perhaps in order to highlight how emotionally challenging this process was for Abraham in his vulnerable state.

13 11, 2020

Parashat Hayei Sarah 5781

By |2022-07-29T11:24:24-04:00November 13, 2020|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah


A D’var Torah for Parashat Hayei Sarah
By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12)For years I have worked with a number of organizations whose mission is centered around fighting racism. The Missouri branch of the NAACP, the Missouri coordinating committee for the Poor Peoples Campaign, the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity in my hometown of Kansas City. So it is with much anticipation that I will participate in this year’s AJR Fall Retreat (albeit virtually) focusing on race and racism.

Much of the work in fighting racism is to wrestle with a sense of our own identity and community. Who is in and who is out, or, to coin a cultural moniker of Jewish identity that came up on day one of the retreat; who is a “member of the tribe.” (This reference had always struck me as a relic of Read More >

21 11, 2019

Parashat Hayei Sarah

By |2022-07-29T11:24:31-04:00November 21, 2019|

A D’var Torah for Parashat Hayei Sarah
By Rabbi David Markus

I stopped counting how often I hear, “God loves me: I got a great parking spot.” Even some clergy, spiritual directors and theologians have a soft spot for the Angel of Miraculous Parking. I too admit to invoking Hanayat-El (from hanayah / ”parking”) under my breath.

Perhaps it’s a cute half-joke – seemingly easy and low stakes, gently cutting down to size the vast uncontrollability of modern life. And as spiritual thinkers of integrity and rigor, let’s be candid about the many theological dilemmas of Hanayat-El: Why do bad parking spots happen to good people? Isn’t God close to the broken-hearted driver on a hurried errand? Does God do parking but not highway traffic or airport delays? Vanity of vanities: all parking is vanity!

But Hanayat-El is no joke. Angel of Miraculous Parking or not, intercessory prayer – asking God for specifics – is a core Jewish Read More >

1 11, 2018

Parashat Hayyei Sarah – 5779

By |2018-11-01T09:25:20-04:00November 1, 2018|

A D’var Torah for Parashat Hayyei Sarah
by Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11)My Jewish upbringing was entirely cultural, not religious. Yiddish aphorisms did more to shape my identity than any biblical story. For a long time I missed the irony that, though raised an atheist, I was taught to believe that certain things were basheyrt – meant to be.

Certainly the Torah wants us to understand the marriage of Rebecca and Isaac as basheyrt. That seems to be the import of Rebecca’s birth providing the coda to the Akeida. That seems to be the sense we are to take from her anticipated appearance to Abraham’s servant. And that seems to be the feeling conveyed by the story of Rebecca’s and Isaac’s first meeting.

That story has a luminescent quality to me. It glows with the fading sunlight of a field at the end of day. The scene seems to be filled with humor – Rebecca falling from her Read More >

9 11, 2017

Parshat Hayei Sara, 5778

By |2017-11-09T10:45:40-05:00November 9, 2017|

Hospitality: Judaism’s Family Business
by Rabbi Irwin Huberman


It was twenty years ago that my wife and I learned from two young children one of the most important values within all of Judaism.

It’s a lesson embodied in this week’s ParashahHayei Sarah-and it may well be a central pillar of what has allowed Jewish tradition to endure and evolve over thousands of years.

I remember that chilly winter night, long before I entered the rabbinate, when the local Chabad rabbi invited my wife and me for Shabbat dinner.

We were obviously nervous.

Would we say something wrong?  Would we stumble when asked to recite the Sabbath blessings?  These questions and a dozen more like them seemed to fill the air as we made our way up our hosts’ driveway.

As we approached the front steps, the door swung open, and out flew two boys, aged nine and eleven, who grabbed our gloves and coats and hats before we’d Read More >

23 11, 2016

Parashat Hayyei Sarah

By |2016-11-23T10:23:18-05:00November 23, 2016|

by Rabbi Isaac Mann

After Abraham buries his wife Sarah, he attends to the future of his offspring, in particular to the marriage of his son Isaac. In rather strong terms, he instructs his servant to go to his birthplace, to Haran, to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham has his servant take an oath that he will not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan “amongst whom I dwell” (Gen. 24:3).

Several commentators take note of the latter expression and question the need for that comment. Surely Abraham’s servant (traditionally assumed to be Eliezer, but never named as such in this narrative) knew that Abraham lived in Canaan. Why the need to emphasize it?

Among the solutions that I read, I found the most insightful to be that of the Keli Yekar, a popular commentary of R. Ephraim Luntschitz (17th century)In explaining the above phrase, he asked why Abraham was so insistent that Isaac Read More >

5 11, 2015

Parashat Hayyei Sarah

By |2015-11-05T19:02:56-05:00November 5, 2015|

The Art of Grounding

by Rabbi Jill Hammer

Recently, I’ve begun the practice of making sure I put my bare feet on the ground at least once a day. I find time to go into the park and touch the grass, soil, stones, tree roots with feet that are accustomed to wear socks and shoes. I consider this a “grounding” practice — a practice of returning to my base. When I do it, I feel calm and stability, and a sense of being more in touch with myself and the world.

The spiritual practice of grounding usually means finding strength or serenity through attaching to one’s foundation in body, earth, or spiritual practice. Some dictionary definitions for the word “grounding:” soil or earth; a surrounding area or background; something that serves as a foundation or means of attachment for something else; a basis for belief. Parashat Hayyei Sarah, which begins with the Read More >

12 11, 2014

Parashat Hayyei Sarah

By |2014-11-12T14:32:23-05:00November 12, 2014|

“Where is Eliezer?”
by Rabbi Isaac Mann

This week’s Torah portion elaborates on two life-cycle events involving Abraham and his family — the death/burial of his wife Sarah and the betrothal/marriage of his son Isaac. There are some interesting similarities between them, most notably that both contain dialogues or speeches that seem either redundant or unnecessarily detailed or possibly both.

The first part of the sidra (Sabbath Torah portion) details Abraham’s quest for a burial place for Sarah and his verbal exchange with Ephron, who possessed the portion of land that the patriarch wanted to purchase as a burial plot. The second and longer part of Hayyei Sarah deals with the mission that Abraham assigns to his servant to find a wife for Isaac and how that mission is carried out. The latter can be divided into two sections. The first is the narrative itself, wherein we have Abraham’s assignment to the servant, the latter’s prayer Read More >

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