I don’t know about you, but I find this week’s portion a relief after all the sturm und drang of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters, the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, and the binding of Isaac. What we have here is a nice, quiet story and tying up of loose ends. Called “Hayyei Sarah” (the life of Sarah), the portion opens with the death of Sarah, which is often related to Isaac’s near-escape. One version (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer): Satan tells her Abraham and sacrificed their son and she dies of shock. Another (Vayikra Rabbah): She learns that Abraham was going to sacrifice their son but didn’t and dies of shock. Then again, she is 127 years old. Abraham buys the Cave of Machpelah as a burial plot. He pays an exorbitant sum instead of bargaining. Why? The commentators have chimed in over the millennia, but I think it was a combination of grief, time pressure, and the fact that he could afford it.
Three years pass. Isaac is now 40 (remember, Sarah gave birth at 90) and unmarried. Abraham, at 140, decides to send his head servant (assumed to be Eliezer) back to the old country, Aram-naharaim, to identify a suitable wife for Isaac, adamant that Isaac not marry a Canaanite woman. Additionally, the bride must be willing to go to Isaac in Canaan, not vice versa. Eliezer is understandably nervous about this undertaking and prays to the Lord, asking that Isaac’s bashert (destined one) be revealed to him by not only giving him water but offering to water the camels as well. And he’d brought ten camels. At once, a beautiful young woman appears, gives Eliezer water, and then says she’ll water the camels as well. She does so eagerly and with alacrity, as Abraham had when providing for his angelic guests. She is Rebecca, granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor. Eliezer, overjoyed, presents her with gifts, meets the family, and reveals his purpose. Rebecca is willing to go to Canaan; in fact, she wants to go with Eliezer right away and does. When she meets her intended, “ Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.”(24:67)
Abraham takes another wife (concubine?), Keturah (sometimes identified as Hagar returned), and has six more children, whom he provides for during his lifetime. Isaac is still the heir. When Abraham dies at 175, Isaac and Ishmael together bury him near Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah. The portion ends with Ishmael’s death and the names of his twelve sons. The stories of Sarah, Abraham, and Ishmael are thus completed. Abraham lives long enough to see his twin grandsons as teenagers, but we hear no more from him, as Isaac and Rebecca take center stage.
Two men were walking home after a Halloween party and decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery just for laughs. Right in the middle of the cemetery they were startled by a tap-tap-tapping noise coming from the misty shadows. Trembling with fear, they found an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones.
“Holy Cow, mister”, one of them said after catching his breath. “You scared us half to death. .. We thought you were a ghost! What are you doing working here so late at night?”
“Those fools!”, the old man grumbled. “They misspelled my name!”
The Yeshiva Boy’s Shidduch
A Yeshiva boy is about to go on his first shidduch (date), and is nervous about what to talk about. He asks his teacher for advice. The teacher replies: “My son, there are three subjects that always work. These are food, family, and philosophy.”
The Yeshiva boy picks up his date and they go to a soda fountain. Ice cream sodas in front of them, they stare at each other for a long time, as the boy’s nervousness builds. He remembers his teacher’s advice, and chooses the first topic. He asks the girl: “Do you like potato pancakes?”
She says “No,” and the silence returns.
After a few more uncomfortable minutes, the boy thinks of his teacher’s suggestion and turns to the second item on the list. He asks, “Do you have a brother?”
Again, the girl says, “No” and there is silence once again.
The boy then plays his last card. He thinks of his teacher’s advice and asks the girl the following question: “If you had a brother, would he like potato pancakes?’
Why are you marrying her?
A minister was called to a local nursing home to perform a wedding. An anxious old man met him at the door. The pastor sat down to counsel the old man and asked several questions.
“Do you love her?”
The old man replied, “I guess.”
“Is she a good Christian woman?”
“I don’t know for sure,” the old man answered.
“Does she have lots of money?” asked the pastor.
“I doubt it.”
“Then why are you marrying her?” the preacher asked.
“She can drive at night,” the old man said
My husband-to-be and I were at the county clerk’s office for our marriage license. After recording the vital information–names, dates
of birth, etc–the clerk handed me our license and deadpanned, “No refunds, no exchanges, no warranties.”
Little Johnny was reading from a Hans Christian Anderson book. “Teacher?” he asked, “Does m-i-r-a-g-e spell marriage?”
“No my child,” sighed the teacher. “But it should.”
Barbie, a waitress, decided to put her matchmaking skills to the test with our mutual friend Mike. She figured that Sandy, another customer who seemed to have much in common with Mike, would be an ideal date.
One day Mike came into the restaurant when Sandy was also there. Barbie dragged Mike over to Sandy’s table and introduced the two. Then she watched, in amazement, as Mike put his arm around the young woman and said in his best mock-seductive voice, “Hellooooh, Sandy.”
“You guys know each other?” Barbie asked.
“We sure do,” said Mike. “She’s my sister.”
(At the very beginning of computer matchmaking, my sister and brother tried it out and got each other’s name. The funny thing was that, at the time, they really didn’t get along. IGP)
OUR nephew had married a beautiful Hawaiian woman he met when they were attending a school on the mainland. A year later they flew to Hawaii to introduce Tom to Geri’s family. In the islands, it is customary for relatives to line up at the airport arrival gate and greet family members with leis and kisses. Tom responded with enthusiasm. Later, nearly smothered in leis, he sought out Geri in the crowd. “That was some reception,” he exclaimed. “The women got more beautiful and kissier as I went down the line. But what happened to you?” “Nothing,” Geri said, giggling. “I quit when we reached the last of my relatives. You worked your way through another entire family!”
WHEN my husband and I were first married, he moonlighted doing re-modeling work in people’s homes. One day we stopped by at the house of an elderly couple he worked for, and the husband joyfully insisted that we join them for some ice cream and cake because it was their 50th anniversary. “Fifty years!” I exclaimed. “That’s a long time with one person!” “It would have been a lot longer without her,” the husband replied.
A FELLOW had lived at home for 43 years and wouldn’t wed for fear of his mother’s reaction. Then he met Mary. After a brief courtship, they eloped. For a year they kept the marriage secret. Finally Mary insisted that he tell his mother. When he did, the elderly woman was furious. “Mother,” he asked fearfully, “don’t you approve?” “A fine thing,” cried the mother. “You and Mary have been married a year, and I’m still doing your shirts!”
Children’s Concepts of Love (selections)
CONCERNING WHY LOVE HAPPENS BETWEEN TWO PARTICULAR PEOPLE
- No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell … That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular. Mae, age 9
- I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful. Manuel, age 8
ON THE ROLE OF BEAUTY AND HANDSOMENESS IN LOVE
- It isn’t always just how you look. Look at me. I’m handsome like anything and I haven’t got anybody to marry me yet. Brian, age 7
REFLECTIONS ON THE NATURE OF LOVE
- Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too. Greg, age 8
CONFIDENTIAL OPINIONS ABOUT LOVE
- Love is foolish … but I still might try it sometime. Floyd, age 9
- Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me. Dave, age 8
SOME SUREFIRE WAYS TO MAKE A PERSON FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU
- Tell them that you own a whole bunch of candy stores. Del, age 6
- One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it’s something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me. Bart, age 9
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF TWO ADULTS EATING DINNER AT A RESTAURANT ARE IN LOVE?
- Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold… Other people care more about the food. Bart, age 9
- It’s love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it’s just like how their hearts are — on fire. Christine, age 9
WHAT MOST PEOPLE ARE THINKING WHEN THEY SAY I LOVE YOU
- Some lovers might be real nervous, so they are glad that they finally got it out and said it and now they can go eat. Dick, age 7
HOW WAS KISSING INVENTED?
- I know one reason that kissing was created. It makes you feel warm all over, and they didn’t always have electric heat or fireplaces or even stoves in their houses. Gina, age 8
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
- When they’re rich. Pam, age 7
- If it’s your mother, you can kiss her anytime. But if it’s a new person, you have to ask permission. Roger, age 6
HOW TO MAKE LOVE ENDURE
- Don’t forget your wife’s name … That will mess up the love. Erin, age 8
- Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash. Dave, age 8