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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘WIFE’

Beginning The Journey

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

A while back, a British newspaper, The Times, interviewed a prominent member of the Jewish community (let’s call him Lord X) on his 92nd birthday. The interviewer said, “Most people, when they reach their 92nd birthday, start thinking about slowing down. You seem to be speeding up. Why is that?”

Lord X replied, “When you get to 92, you start seeing the door begin to close, and I have so much to do before the door closes that the older I get, the harder I have to work.”

Something like that is the impression we get of Abraham in this week’s parshah. Sarah, his constant companion throughout their journeys, has died. He is 137 years old. We see him mourn Sarah’s death, and then he moves into action.

He engages in an elaborate negotiation to buy a plot of land in which to bury her. As the narrative makes clear, this is not a simple task. He confesses to the locals, the Hittites, that he is “an immigrant and a resident among you,” meaning that he knows he has no right to buy land. It will take a special concession on their part for him to do so. The Hittites politely but firmly try to discourage him. He has no need to buy a burial plot. “No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.” He can bury Sarah in someone else’s graveyard. Equally politely but no less insistently, Abraham makes it clear that he is determined to buy land. In the event, he pays a highly inflated price (400 silver shekels) to do so.

The purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is evidently a highly significant event because it is recorded in great detail and highly legal terminology – not just here but three times subsequently in Genesis, each time with the same formality. For instance, here is Jacob on his deathbed, speaking to his sons:

“Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites” (Genesis 49:29-32).

Something significant is being hinted at here; otherwise why mention, each time, exactly where the field is and from whom Abraham bought it?

Immediately after the story of land purchase, we read, “Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and God had blessed Abraham with everything.” Again this sounds like the end of a life, not a preface to a new course of action, and again our expectation is confounded. Abraham launches into a new initiative, this time to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac, who by now is at least 37 years old. Abraham leaves nothing to chance. He does not speak to Isaac himself but to his most trusted servant, who he instructs to go “to my native land, to my birthplace” to find the appropriate woman. He wants Isaac to have a wife who will share his faith and way of life. Abraham does not specify that she should come from his own family, but this seems to be an assumption hovering in the background.

As with the purchase of the field, so here the course of events is described in more detail than almost anywhere else in the Torah. Every conversational exchange is recorded. The contrast with the story of the binding of Isaac could not be greater. There, almost everything – Abraham’s thoughts, Isaac’s feelings – is left unsaid. Here, everything is said. Again, the literary style calls our attention to the significance of what is happening, without telling us precisely what it is.

The explanation is simple and unexpected. Throughout the story of Abraham and Sarah, God had promised them two things: children and a land. The promise of the land (“Rise, walk in the land throughout its length and breadth, for I will give it to you”) is repeated no less than seven times. The promise of children occurs four times. Abraham’s descendants will be “a great nation,” as many as “the dust of the earth” and “the stars in the sky.” He will be the father not of one nation but of many.

To Polish A Diamond

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Rav Ezriel Tauber says that a husband and wife are like two rough diamonds. A rough diamond can become a priceless, pure jewel, but only if another diamond is used to remove the impurities. So HaKadosh Boruch Hu puts together two perfectly matched rough diamonds. He makes sure that they have their little differences. The friction from these differences scrapes away at their impurities so they gradually become multi-faceted, pure, shining jewels.

However, when the differences go deep, when the problems – perhaps temper, perhaps criticism, perhaps lack of help – rock the shalom bayis, then the scraping and rasping of those two diamonds can often be too much to bear. Trying to “dig out” either spouse’s “impurity” without an anesthetic is hardly likely to decrease the pain.

There may be another way to purify the diamonds. Perhaps a solvent where the couple joins forces to dissolve the problem might do the trick.

So let’s imagine a couple and hear what they may say:

WIFE: I tried so hard the other day. I got up at 5:30. I slipped out of bed as quietly as I could and left the room on tiptoes so as not to wake my husband. I dressed, davened and made everybody his or her lunches. Then I heard the children stirring. All their clothes were ready, so I popped my head into their room and said, “Come on children, time to get up. Off you go to do neggel vasser and then you can get dressed.”

My bed wetter had wet his bed. I calmly stripped his bed and said, “Well, tonight you can try again.” I was so pleased with myself for not getting angry. My dreamer was still sitting on his bed singing to himself, lost in some imagining game. “Come on,” I said, “it’s time to start dressing for school.” On the way to the washing basket with the wet sheets, I heard the rumblings of a children’s squabble. I dropped the sheets and dashed to the bedroom to prevent a full fledge war. My husband also heard and came in, rubbing his sleepy eyes. “What are these wet sheets doing in the middle of the hall? I could have tripped over them! Why can’t you keep the children quiet for the few extra minutes I have before it’s time to get up for minyan?”

I kept my mouth shut tight. I was not going to answer back. I was not going to let that larva stream of angry defensiveness pour out of my mouth in burning words and accusations. I tried encouraging the children to get dressed but my message came out all wrong. My voice was too loud and my words sounded more like demands and commands than encouragement.

“There you go again shouting at the children. Why can’t you make our mornings a happy, fun time?”

“Stop it!” I screamed. “Stop criticizing me in front of the children!” I ran to my room, took a deep breath, wiped my streaming eyes, and promised myself that I would calm down and make another try for a good start to the day.

“Come on kids. If you hurry up then I’ll have time to read to you before the school bus comes.”

I did it. I really did try again.

“I want my book,” piped up the oldest.

“No, I want the crocodile book.”

Meanwhile my “dreamer” was still singing away and all the neat piles of clothes had been thrown haphazardly on the floor.

“How do you expect the children to find their clothes in this chaos?” was my husband’s “helpful” comment.

I lost it, lost it, LOST IT! “Stop criticizing me. I’ve been up since 5:30 getting everything ready for all of you. I tried to quiet the children. I dropped those wet sheets in a vain attempt to stop their squabbling. I…”

“That’s half your trouble, you’re over tired. You should get more sleep.”

“There you go again! Will you please listen to me…?”

The children shook into their clothes. They came to breakfast and the silence was deafening. Not a word from anybody. They silently left for school. I gave each of them an unresponded to kiss and told them I loved them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/to-polish-a-diamond/2012/05/17/

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