Archive for the 'Chayyei Sarah' Category

When She Doesn’t Want to Make Aliyah

November 23rd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

Pinchas cites the Torah’s recommendations on what to do if the girl you want to go out with doesn’t want to make aliyah

Pluperfect Verbs

November 22nd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

Josh explains how one verb (יֹשֵׁב) can take on different meanings based on context and conjugation

Eulogizing vs. Crying

November 22nd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

ותמת שרה בקרית ארבע הוא חברון בארץ כנען, ויבא אברהם, לספד לשרה ולבכתה

And Sarah died in Kiryat Arba – which is Chevron – in the land of Canaan, and Avraham came to eulogize for Sarah and to cry for her

Bereishit 23:2

The Torah here describes Avraham’s actions upon arriving in Chevron. First he eulogized his wife. Then he cried over her death. Why does the Torah emphasize these two actions? And why specifically in this order?

The Netziv explains that the primary purpose for a eulogy is to praise the person who had died, to speak of there greatness and of their accomplishments. On the converse, one cries for the dead in sorrow over one’s loss. Crying is a way of expressing one’s personal anguish and mourning.

When the loss of the person who has just been niftar is something that affects one in a very severe way, and one’s grief over one’s loss is more powerful than any praise that could be given for the decease, then it is appropriate to cry before reciting a eulogy. However, if the loss does not cause one’s world to be turned upside down, and the praise one can give for the dead person is the more powerful feeling, then one should first eulogize and then cry. The stronger emotion should lead one to action.

Although Sarah’s death was tragic, it did not turn Avraham’s world upside down. He already had a son, Yitzchak, through Sarah. His mission of spreading the word of God throughout the world was still active, and his next task was to marry off his son. Thus Avraham did not feel compelled to cry for Sarah immediately upon arriving at the scene of her death. The more powerful sentiment was to praise Sarah for who she was and what she had accomplished: a woman who in some ways had a closer connection to God then did Avraham (see Rashi on Bereishit 21:12), a woman who regained the beauty of her childhood just as she reached the climax of her life and who was as sinless as a youth on the day that she died.

There was much to praise about Sarah’s life and much to learn about the ways in which she conducted herself. Thus Avraham first eulogized his wife. Only afterwards did he cry for his loss.