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Parshat - Cheshvan Chaye Sarah

Parshat - Cheshvan Chaye Sarah

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 - 1:39 pm

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This week we read that Avraham our forefather “became old” and started working on finding a wife for his son Yitzchak.  In our society, “becoming old” does not sound very positive, but in the Torah the term for old, “Zaken”, is in fact a great compliment. The Hebrew letters of the word are an acronym for the words “Ze kanah [chochma]” – this person has acquired wisdom.  In fact, this term can sometimes be used for a young but very wise person.  So when it says “Avraham Zaken”, it means not only that he was advanced in age, but that he had attained a great level of wisdom.  In addition to “Avraham Zaken”, the Torah adds the words “Ba Bayamim”, literally translated as “he came with his days”, usually explained as advanced in years.  However, in the context of the Torah’s description of Avraham, there is a much more meaningful explanation. The Zohar says that this expression means that Avraham “had” all his days. Not a single day was wasted. If we use a day wisely, then we “have” the day, we own it and it has contributed to our work in the world. When we waste a day doing nothing, then that day is lost and has contributed nothing.

The double expression, “old” and “with his days”, teaches us an important lesson.  As we go through our lives, we want to make sure that each day is meaningful.  Not only should we be doing good things in a general sense, but we should make sure to bring significance to each day. This way, we will “have our days” with us as we live our lives. But that is not enough. Sometimes a person is doing wonderful things for the world and forgetting about him or herself. Busy days go by, and before you know it a week has passed without any learning or intellectual growth. The Torah tells us about our forefather, whom we should try to emulate, that he had both. He gained great wisdom through personal study of Torah and learning from his experiences, and he did wonderful things for others every day. A full life is a life of personal growth and wisdom - “Zaken”, and making a difference in the world each day, “having our days.”

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