At 35,000 feet sitting for 4 hrs in that small space between two people, one has not much to do other than thinking about the parashah. This week we read the one portion of the Torah that is named after a woman: Chayei Sarah, “the life of Sarah”. Ironically, this parashah, which is named for its opening words, actually relates her death and burial. Because the preceding story in the Torah tells of “the binding of Isaac”, the rabbinic tradition has connected these two stories. The ancient sages note that when God calls Abraham to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice, there is no mention that Sarah has been informed. Rather, “Abraham awakes early in the morning” and heads off with his son. The two walk off together to the site of the potential offering. Stopped at the last minute from taking the knife to his son’s throat, the Torah relates that Abraham returns to his home in Be’er Sheva. And what of Isaac? The Torah does not say explicitly. And what of Sarah? We hear of her death. Some commentators have speculated that Sarah dies of the fright she has suffered from her son being taken away and offered as a potential sacrifice; and that Isaac, traumatized, returns to a meditative life in the field. The beauty of Torah, in its lack of detail, is that it enables us to “fill in the blanks” and draw lessons from the story as told.
One thing we recognize is that by this time in her life, Sarah has become silent. Another is that Isaac has become withdrawn. These characters remind us, sadly, of a reality that pervades our contemporary society far too much — the silencing of women, the forcing of our will on children and, in general, situations that cause women and children to seek shelter. This is not to say that our patriarch of blessed memory, Abraham Avinu, was abusive, but rather, we can see the suffering of women and children far too much to this day. In fact back in the time of the Torah, the prime concern for the underprivileged and oppressed is framed in the commandment “to look after the widow and orphan.” As a society, we need to deal proactively to eliminate power structures that disadvantage women and children.
Thus we come to our Synagogue’s Family promise and Peter Pantries as part of CBTBI’s commitment to “doing good deeds to meet community needs”, we will be packing food and supplies for families in need and families looking for shelter. For more information on how to join or how to collaborate contact the office.
These gifts will go a small way towards letting them know that we hear their voices, and that we care.