This is one of the most idyllic Torah portions in Genesis. No one turns to salt, no one is banished and almost dies in the desert, no one murders his brother or almost sacrifices his son. There’s even a lack of intrafamily friction– just a hint as to Laban’s questionable character when he practically drools over the rich gifts from Abraham and when Rebecca wants to leave home immediately. This peaceful story about the end of Abraham’s life contrasts sharply with the intrigue in the haftarah (1 Kings 1:1-31), in which the dying King David’s throne is promised to one son and usurped by another.
The portion starts with the death of Sarah, whence the name of the portion, “life of Sarah”. Tradition links the death of Sarah to shock over the akedah – either from thinking Isaac had actually been sacrificed, or just the knowledge Abraham would even consider such a thing, or even from joy that Isaac was safe. At any rate, she dies at 127, which makes Isaac 37, and her husband duly mourns her and spares no expense in purchasing a burial site, the Cave of Machpelah, his first purchase of land in Canaan.
Three years later, Abraham realizes that he needs to provide for the future by finding Isaac a wife, one who must be willing to come to Canaan. He sends his faithful servant (assumed to be Eliezer) to his old homeland. What follows seems part fairy tale, part useful character assessment. Eliezer asks for a sign: the beshert (destined one) will be a young woman who, on seeing him and his camels at the well (there’s always a well in these stories), will offer both to give him water and to water the camels. And who should come by but a young woman who does so, eagerly, and who should she be but Rebecca, granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor. Thus, Isaac’s betrothed is both already part of the family (which is good) and an energetic, generous person. One question: Why didn’t Abraham just send Eliezer directly to Nahor’s family? Was he concerned that they might foist someone unsuitable on Isaac? Anyhow, Rebecca goes back to Canaan, Isaac marries her, and, for now, it’s a love match.
Abraham takes a wife/concubine, Keturah, sometimes identified with Hagar, and provides for her children through gifts during his lifetime; all else goes to Isaac. Abraham dies peacefully at 175, and Isaac and Ishmael together bury him near Sarah. The portion ends with Ishmael’s presumably peaceful death and a list of his 12 sons.
The Cemetery Plot Joke
A constantly nagged and harried son-in-law decided to buy his mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a birthday present.
The next birth day came but this year he didn’t buy her a gift.
The mother-in-law was upset and asked the son-in-law why was he had forgotten this time.
The angry son-in-law responded, “Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!”
Top Ten Signs Obama/Netanyahu Were on a Shidduch Date*
by weekly bang 5/22 Posted: 05-22-2009(Viewed 2492 times)
* i.e., testing a prospective match
10. The Shadchuns[matchmakers] were very nervous at first
9. Both were wearing shabbos clothing
8. BB picked Barack up at his House; and they had date in the lobby
7. Kept the conversation light, you know American Idol, nuclear weapons
6. Jewish geography started off with, “Do you know my friend Rahm?”
5. Fought over who would cover the (foreign-aid) bill
4. Bibi is praying Barack stops seeing other people
3. After the date, the matchmakers played down the differences / emphasized similarities… “He meant to say two-state solution”
2. Both wondering who will make the next move
1. Both came home changed their Facebook status to “It’s complicated.”
(#831) Have I got someone for you
A shadchen (matchmaker) goes over to a yeshiva buchur (student) 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 (ancestry). 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.
How to Decide Who to Marry: By Kids
How would you make your marriage work?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
Ricky, age 10
How can a stranger tell if two people are married?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
Derrick, age 8
What do you think your mom and dad have in common?
Both don’t want any more kids.
Lori, age 8
What do most people do on a date?
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
Lynnette, age 8
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
Martin, age 10
What would you do on a first date that was turning sour?
I’d run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
Craig, age 9
When is it okay to kiss someone?
When they’re rich.
Pam, age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.
Curt, age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do.
Howard, age 8
What is the right age to get married?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.(Very true.)
Camille, age 10
No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married.
Freddie, age 6
Is it better to be single or married?
I don’t know which is better, but I’ll tell you one thing. I’m never going to have sex with my wife. I don’t want to be all grossed out.
Theodore, age 8
It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
Anita, age 9 (bless you child)
How do you decide whom to marry?
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
Alan, age 10
No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.
Kristen, age 10
Seeking solutions for a ‘matchmaking crisis’ in the Orthodox community [excerpts]
By Michelle Boorstein, Published: April 17, 2011
Rabbi Binyamin Sanders knew the crisis had reached his doorstep when the phone calls began — and didn’t stop.
The Orthodox call it the “shidduch crisis,” or matchmaking crisis — a perceived rise in the number of male and female singles, a delay among those in their 20s in marrying and a struggle to meet a match.
Among them is Star-K, a major kosher certification firm in Baltimore, home to the country’s largest per capita Orthodox community in the country. After giving out more than $350,000 — $2,500 a pop – over the past five years for people who make successful matches, the firm announced a few weeks ago it needed to start investing its charitable dollars elsewhere. But it noted that the program has been replicated in New York, New Jersey and Toronto.
Among those who are alarmed about the singles situation, opinions abound about the cause.
Is an increased conservatism that keeps the genders apart at everything from wedding receptions to lectures the reason more people are single? Has the recent growth boom in Orthodox schools produced young women who believe a suitable husband has to be practically a Talmudic scholar? Have dating Web sites — some of which are chaperoned by matchmakers, or shadchans — helped or hurt by creating an open marketplace with endless, superficial expectations that didn’t exist a decade or two ago?
Even so, some have lashed out at the framing of the subject, arguing that young Orthodox delaying marriage because they have more personal and professional options should not be seen as a problem.
Jewish law, this camp says, doesn’t mandate an SUV-load of babies, and most couples in the Bible didn’t meet through a matchmaking system that assumes men and women shouldn’t mix too freely. They have launched Web sites with names like endthemadness.organd written satire pieces like one about Shidduch Crisis Anonymous.
Psychologist Michael Salamon, who runs a mental health clinic on Long Island that caters to the Orthodox, says, “Who says you have to be married by a certain age? Who says you have to have so many children? Under Jewish law, two children meets all the requirements,” he said.
To a 28-year-old project manager at Amtrak who lives in Silver Spring, the issue boils down to one word: pickiness.