“The life of Sarah was 127 years, such was the span of Sarah’s life,” (Genesis 23:1) Chayyei Sarah – The Life of Sarah, is perhaps one of the oddest named Torah portions in the cannon. One would assume that a tale so named would be an accounting of the life and accomplishments of the titular character; but this parsha moves rapidly from Sarah’s exit from our story, to focus on the next generation.
Enter, Rebekah, the soon-to-be inheritor of the line of the covenant that was promised to Abraham and Sarah. She appears on the scene in a whirlwind of activity, as she rushes to offer water to Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, who has been tasked with finding Isaac a wife from amongst Abraham’s kin. In seeking a bride for his master’s son, Eliezer narrows the field by choosing kindness as the defining characteristic of Isaac’s bride – and he finds it in Rebekah. Eager to aide a weary traveler and his beasts of burden, Rebekah earns her place in the matriarchal line for this one profound act of chesed – of kindness toward a stranger. May we be like Rebekah, keeping our eyes peeled for opportunities to speedily respond to the needs around us with kindness.
Rabbi Callie B. Schulman