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Please enjoy my articles and Divrei Torah. They are full of teachings derived from spiritual sources, such as the writings of Kabbalah & the Chasidic masters

This week’s torah portion is known as Chayei Sarah which means “the life of Sarah.” Ironically it begins with the death of Sarah. According to the text Sarah lived 127 years. The rabbis point out that the torah says she lived 100 years, 20 years, and 7 years. Why is it written this way? They comment that at the age of 100 she was the same as when she was 20. And when she was 20 she still had the innocence of when she was 7.


But that’s not the main story. In this portion we read about Abraham sending his servant, Eliezer, up north to the old country to find Isaac a wife. It’s probably the least he could do for his son as he tried to kill him in last week’s portion.


Anyway, Eliezer brings with him 10 camels and comes up with a plan; as he is standing. by the local well, he decides that any woman who would offer him water and offer to give his camels water that would be the sign that she was the one for Isaac. As it turns out Rebekah who happens to be Isaac’s cousin, on his mother’s side, is the woman who does just as Eliezer had told himself. When she offers him water, and the camels, he immediately offers her a nose ring and two bracelets and then asks who she is. She tells him who her father is and who her grandparents are and it becomes clear that she is already part of the family and would be perfect for Isaac.


One of my favorite late 18th century rabbis is known as Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Berditchev is a town in northern Ukraine, by the way. He asks the question, “Knowing that Rebekah’s brother and father are shady characters, how do we know that Rebekah is truly kind…how did she get that way? Levi Yitzchak explains that the kindnesses of Abraham were so powerful that they reverberated around the world and particularly up north. Since there is no mother’s name given for her, the Torah seems to imply that Rebekah was the result of an immaculate conception, that somehow her father birthed her. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak explains that it was kindness itself, the kindness that reverberated from Abraham’s good deeds, that was the contributing factor in Rebekah being conceived. 


The point that the rabbi is making is that good deeds of kindness are a powerful force in the world. Kindness has the ability to spread from one person to another. As the Talmud says, “Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah - one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah.” Whether we inspire someone to do a good deed from our actions or we inspire ourselves to do another good deed, kindness has a way of being infectious.


In this world, in the current environment we are in, and in light of some recent controversial anti-semitic statements made by celebrities, kindness, and the vibrations that follow a good deed, are more important than ever. Kindness, not just for the Jewish community, we should be that light unto the nations that sets the example of how to behave as decent human beings in a society.


This Friday night, Rabbi Ettman and I, in addition to leading songs and prayers of comfort,  will be addressing the recent outbreaks of Jew Hatred. We will discuss the history of anti-semitism and how to recognize it. Knowing and recognizing how hatred manifests is the first step in combatting it. Antisemitism is much more insidious and nuanced than one might think and we want everyone to learn how to identify it, shine light on it, and stand up to it.


It would be amazing to gather a large crowd for this important service and discussion. This is something that our students deal with and it’s good to have open discussions with them about it as well. As the Torah teaches, it is a mitzvah to not hate others in your heart. Let us try to teach that to our communities and our world. 

Kein Y’hi Ratzon, may it be God’s will!

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