Dvar Torah Chaya Sara - The importance of Stories

Dvar Torah – The stories we tell about ourselves.

This week’s Torah portion, Chaya Sarah, deals with the first instance of betrothal and marriage that is described in the Torah. The account of Abraham’s search for Rebecca is repeated many times. First, as a request from Abraham, then as an entreaty from Eliezer to G-d describing how things should play out, and finally a description of how things occurred.

There is a famous question that is asked about the apparent redundancy. There are so many important laws and traditions that are either only hinted at or require a derivation. Why, when the Torah is so concise in other places is it so verbose here?

The answer has become a famous Jewish saying, “The stories of the parents are lessons for the children.”

We can learn a lot about a culture and people through the stories that they tell about themselves. Some cultures extol violence and tell stories about those who have fallen in battle, others focus on literary excellence and study great writers, and others focus on philosophy and thinkers that examine life.

In this week’s portion, we see what Judaism focuses on…. Kindness.

Rebecca is chosen as the maternal source of our people because she is kind. She rushes to bring water to the camels as well as to Eliezer himself. Many people exhibit kindness, but it is a transactional kindness, one that expects a quid pro quo. Camels cannot return the favor. So, kindness expended on their behalf is true kindness.

In these challenging times, remember that the Jewish people are peaceful people. We have had many generals and courageous soldiers over time. But their names have been lost. We, as a culture, have chosen not to remember our wars. They are fought out of necessity not fame.

In these challenging times, remember our common mother Rebecca and the kindness she bestowed upon camels, and let us be kind to those around us as well, even the camels.