Archive for the '1.05 Chaye Sarah' Category



Phranz Kaphka

I am a  fan of Franz Kafka. For me he optimizes the ideals of what it means to be Jewish beyond the limitations of Halacha. From his writing we see that he was totally in tune with the human condition, extremely alienated from society, and hugely creative. Once asked about his being Jewish Kafka responded, “What have I in common with Jews? I have hardly anything in common with myself”

Avraham declared, “I am a stranger and a dweller with you; give me a burial place with you so I may bury my dead before me” (Genesis 23:4). Rashi explained this verse, “I am a stranger and a dweller with you – a stranger from a different land that has settled with you.” Kafka was a voice for the modern Avraham. It is as if he took the next logical step in intrepting what it meant to be Ger V’Toshav. Pushing us to realized in the modern world we need to deal with the depths of alienation.

Recently my son Yadid used a perminant marker on a piece of furnature. I was upset to see it, but it was hard to punish him when when I saw what he wrote. Who was I going to blame?

I am Not my selph

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A Love to Live

In Chaye Sarah ,this week’s Torah portion, we focus on finding a partner for Yitzhak. We read,

And Avraham was old, well stricken in age; and the LORD had blessed Avraham in all things. And Avraham said unto his servant, the elder of his house, that ruled over all that he had: ‘Put, I pray of you, your hand under my thigh. And I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. (Genesis 24:1-3)

While I would be interested to discuss issues in intermarriage with anyone, right now I am more interested in the Torah going out of its way to tell us that Avraham is getting on in his years.  In the end of this chapter we read,

“And Yitzhak brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rivka, and she became his wife; and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for his mother. “ (Genesis 24:67)

It seems that the Sarah was a source of love in their house. Then the Torah goes on to report that Avraham gets remarried and has more children. It does not seem that Avraham was in fact that old, but it does seem purposeful that the love of Yitzhak and Rivka is framed by the life of Avraham.

Could Avraham not move on until Yitzhak had moved on? Would Yitzhak have doubted his parents love? Or maybe, there was an urgency for him to find a partner for himself once Yitzhak left home. Avraham might have been inspired by having an empty nest to find a new life partner. It is also possible that Avraham had forgotten what love was about until he saw the love between the Yitzhak and Rivka. In this light, it seems that Avraham’s getting remarried is actually a testament to his love of Sarah. Love might not be eternal, but it does give you something for which to live.

When I Fell for Camp

She was bubbling over with excitement. She had heard so much about this place. This was her first time away from home. And yet some how she knew that her life was going to be different after coming here. While she knew that she was going to miss her family, she was excited to make new friends, and yes she was excited to meet a special someone. As they arrived she could not stay in her seat.

I am sure that this story rings true for those of us who remember going to camp for the first time or remember sending our children to camp for the first time. All of the excitement, all of those expectations of what that summer has in store. As the bus lurches forward you feel yourself opening up to the people on the bus. You are hardly able to sit in your seat as the bus pulls off the main road and you see that first sign for your camp. You have never been there before, but as you pull in you know that you are home.

And while this is my story of going to camp for the first time, it is also the story of Rebecca as we read in last week’s Torah portion. There we read,

Then Rebecca and her maids got ready and mounted their camels and  went back with the man. So the servant took Rebecca and left. Now Isaac had come from Be’er Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. And Rebecca lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she fell off the camel. (Genesis 24:61- 64)

Rebecca was that first happy camper coming home. She fell in love at first sight. Just as I fell in love as a camper. It was not with a person, those crushes and relationships came and went. It was not with that place, even though it will endure in my memory as a place filled with kiddusha, holiness. I fell in love with the person I allowed myself to be in that place.

Many years ago my camp supervisor mailed me the following story. Once there was a Rebbe who had a yeshiva. His son studied in the Yeshiva. One day the son took off the afternoon to go walking in the forest. The father said nothing. But over time the son took to taking off every afternoon to walk in the forest. At this point the father realized that he needed to confront his son. The Rebbe said to his son, “ I hear that you are walking in the forest every afternoon. Why are you doing this?” The son replied that he was looking for God. The Rebbe was puzzled and asked, “Did I not teach you that God is the same everywhere?” The son replied, “ Abba, I know that God is the same everywhere, but I am not.” When and where in my life was I more open to being all of whom I aspired to become? It was when I got off that bus for the first time, and it was at camp.

While I love the place and I love that time in my life, I realize that I owe a lot to my counselors. More than what I saw in them as role models, it was what my role models saw in me when I tumbled off that bus. They shared with me a glimpse of the person that I am still working on becoming. And that is why I fell in love with camp.


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