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ALL OR NOTHING

by Rachi Messing    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

If someone were to ask you what the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah is about, the natural response would be, "Well, it is the portion that talks about the end of Sarah's life and the details surrounding her burial."

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If someone were to ask you what the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah is about, the natural response would be, "Well, it is the portion that talks about the end of Sarah's life and the details surrounding her burial." Yet, most people are not aware that this portion deals with the death of Sarah's husband Abraham as well. The last section of Chayei Sarah gives a quick synopsis of the end of Abraham's life as he marries a woman named Keturah and has many children with her.

Immediately before the death of Abraham, we find two very interesting verses. The first states, "And Abraham gave all that was his to Isaac" (Genesis 25:5). The next verse says that to the children of Keturah, Abraham gave matanot, gifts. The question that immediately presents itself is, if Abraham gave e verything he had to Isaac, then what did he have left to give as "presents" to his other children?

Rashi and many other commentators explain that what Abraham actually gave to Isaac were the berachot, blessings he had received from Hashem. He gave them to Isaac along with the right for Isaac to give them over to the next generation. This began the passing on of the Jewish tradition from parent to child. Dayan Moshe Swift, the late senior judge on the London Beit Din (Jewish court), explains that the "gifts" that Abraham gave to the other children was actually all of the physical wealth that Abraham had amassed. That which Isaac received was not physical but spiritual.

When the Torah refers to that which Isaac received, it says he got "everything". This shows us what is really considered important in this world. Many times we think in terms of "what have I gained from being friends with someone - he never gave me anything." What we fail to realize is that though they may have never given us anything physical, they still may have given us "everything".

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Rachi Messing, a student at Ner Israel Rabbinical College and Towson State University in Baltimore, is engaged to Devorah Estreicher of Atlanta.

You are invited to read more Parshat Chayei Sarah articles. 

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