Hayyei Sarah (Genesis 23.1-25.18)

This week, we transition from Abraham as the focus to Isaac.  The portion opens with Sarah’s death at 127.  Tradition has it that she died immediately after the near-sacrifice of Isaac (either shock her husband nearly killed their son or at a false report that he actually had or joyful shock at believing he had and learning he hadn’t, etc.), making Isaac 37 years old at the time.  Abraham “negotiates” the purchase of a burial site, the cave of Machpelah, with Ephron the Hittite and quickly agrees to pay an exorbitant amount (was Abraham still too much in mourning to care about the price? was he rich enough that it didn’t matter?). I find it ironic that Abraham’s first recorded purchase of land in Canaan is a burial site.

After three years, Isaac is 40 and still single.  Abraham decides to arrange a match: his steward will go back to the old country to pick out a nice girl from the family, one who, if not already monotheistic, will be willing to convert and come back to be Isaac’s wife.  The steward prays for specific signs that will identifying the right bride, signs that indicate the young woman to be both exceptionally kind and willing to go far beyond the expected (“greatly exceeds expectations” in human resources parlance), someone who in the corporate world would be a real go-getter.  And not only does Rebecca offer to give him water to drink and his camels as well, but she makes sure even the camels drink their fill (which is a lot).  She is rewarded  with expensive gifts and, probably more important to her, given the alacrity with which she wants to get on the road, a chance to get away from home.  And so, Rebecca and Isaac marry, and Isaac is finally comforted after Sarah’s death.

The portion ends with Abraham’s death after his marriage(?) to Keturah, who is thought to be Hagar returned, and they have several sons, who are not his heirs but are given gifts by Abraham in his lifetime.  When he dies, Isaac and Ishmael reunite to bury their father next to his wife, Sarah.  Now that Abraham’s story is wrapped up, Isaac will, comparatively briefly, take center stage.

Shabbat shalom,



Negotiations between union members and their employer were at an impasse. The union denied that their workers were flagrantly abusing their contract’s sick-leave provisions.

One morning at the bargaining table, the company’s chief negotiator held aloft the morning edition of the newspaper, “This man,” he announced, “called in sick yesterday!” There, on the sports page, was a photo of the supposedly ill employee, who had just won a local golf tournament with an excellent score.

A union negotiator broke the silence in the room. “Wow,” he said. “Think of what kind of score he could have had if he hadn’t been sick!”


(#831) Have I got someone for you

A shadchen goes over to a yeshiva buchur and says, “Do I have a girl for you.”
“Not interested,” replies the buchur.
“She’s very beautiful,” says the shadchen.
“Really?” says the buchur.
“Yes, and she’s rich too.”
“And she has great yiches. She’s from a very fine family.”
“Sounds great,” says the buchur, “but why would a girl like that want to marry me? She’d have to be crazy.”
“Well, you can’t have everything,” replies the shadchen.

shadchen: a professional marriage broker
yeshiva buchur: student
yiches: ancestry



Yenta, 2.0 [excepts]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011   Helen Chernikoff   Staff Writer

‘Jessica” is young, frum and fun to be around. But she’s playing the dating game with a handicap: divorced parents, which make her less of a catch in the eyes of traditional matchmakers. Ideally, a friend who’s savvy about setting people up would step in. But you can’t just make that happen … or can you?

A new organization, JS MatchPoint, says you can. And it’s just one of a number of new initiatives — including a website and a Facebook group — that aim to help young Modern Orthodox Jews meet and marry.

These new projects are hardly the first attempts to use the Internet to promote Jewish marital bliss. While Frumster, JDate and SawYouAtSinai are all for-profit businesses, the latest projects seek to achieve their goal of creating more Jewish marriages by diffusing skills, connections and power into the hands of regular folks.

JS MatchPoint, for example, will tap the potential of an existing network by training community members who like to make matches.  JS MatchPoint is the brainchild of Sharon Haberman, an Upper West Side mother of five and former lawyer. She plans to make the organization a nonprofit, although at this point it is still at the business plan stage as she seeks funding.

This multiplier effect of networks is appealing at a time when Jewish anxiety over perpetuating the Tribe remains intense. Not only are Jews increasingly intermarrying, but they are marrying at lower rates, and considerably later, than Americans in general. American Jewish fertility is too low to replace the population.

While observant Jewish singles remain more interested in marriage, and early marriage at that, than their non-Orthodox and non-Jewish peers, even they are marrying later as they pursue time-consuming professional ambitions and bring a long list of both religious and romantic requirements to the search for a partner.

Haberman’s organization seeks to empower and inspire amateur matchmakers, like Jessica’s well-intentioned friends, offering them training and guidance from professional matchmakers, psychologists and social workers.



        –Andrea Henry

My go-getter coworker asked me, “Andrea, why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?”

I replied, “On the chance that I get fired this afternoon and don’t have to do it at all.”

March 9, 2008 · 10:00 am  

As Expected: how to write a performance review [abridged]

This year, as you may have heard, there’s a recession afoot.  Since positive performance reviews traditionally lead to more generous raises, and companies have little money for such extravagances right now, their direction will be to grow and thrive through risk-taking, innovation, and phenomenal leadership.

No – that’s silly! Their direction will be to crank the old performance review rating dial up to “futile” to harshen the ratings and minimize the raises.

And so, as a free service to bosses everywhere, we present the 2008 performance review ratings template.

Cut, paste and devastate at will.

~ ~ ~

Delivered on all goals plus cured common cold: Below Expectations

Bet office supplies budget on Trifecta at Belmont and won company 32 grand: Below Expectations

Upgraded letter Y from sometimes vowel status to always: Below Expectations

Cured Lactose Intolerance, Obesity and Wandering Eye: As Expected

Buffed out unsightly bumps in Grand Canyon walls: As Expected

Discovered untapped reserves of sweet crude oil under corporate headquarters, 3 billion barrels: As Expected

Refined it into premium gasoline using office copier technology: Above Expectations

Defied Gravity, hanging in midair for three minutes straight on live TV wearing company logo’d banana hammock: Above Expectations

Just received job offer elsewhere: Greatly Exceeds Expectations

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