The first major chapter in the history of the Jewish people ends in this
week's Parasha with the deaths of our first matriarch and patriarch, Sarah
and Abraham. The Torah records the span of the life of Sarah with the
repetitious phrasing "100 year and 20 year and 7 years the days of the life
of Sarah." Our commentators point out that the repetition is used to teach
that all of her days were "equally good.'' In referring to the old age of
Abraham the Torah states, "And Abraham was old, he came with his days."
Again the Torah uses intentionally awkward language in order to teach us a
There was once a man who visited a village far from his home. In touring
all the different parts of the town he went to the cemetery and noticed
something very unusual. Each of the tombstones was marked the age of the
person who lay in that spot. The date of passing was not etched in the
stone as the visitor was used to seeing in other places to which he
traveled. Instead, in this town the markings listed the years, months and
days that the person lived. That in itself would be enough to baffle the
traveler but he also noticed that the ages of the departed were all
extremely young. One stone read 7 years, 4 months, 6 days. Another read 20
years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. In fact none was more than 30 years of
age when he had passed on to the next world. Upon his return to the heart
of the village he noticed that many people looked older than those that
were buried in the cemetery. His inquiry yielded no fruit until he
approached a member of the Hebra Kadisha -- the burial society. His
question received a startling answer.
"We don't record the amount of time a person spends on this earth on their
grave," said the helpful gentleman. "We record the REAL TIME spent in the
performance of Torah learning, misvot performance as well as time spent
doing acts of kindness for others. After we total up all that time, we
engrave the REAL LIFE of the person on the stone."
The lesson is clear. A person is given life in order to achieve and grow.
The time spent successfully performing what the Torah requires of the human
being is what is considered the "life" of the person. The time spent on
trivialities may be the good life but in Torah terms it is not living. The
verse says "And these are the days of the years of the life of
Abraham--asher hai--that he lived." The ideals portrayed by our forefathers
in the "story" portions of our holy Torah are the goals we all must strive
to duplicate. We all must do our best to spend the precious moments of our
earthly lives in productive ways as taught by the Torah. Then, we too, will
earn the merit to "come with all of our days".
DID YOU KNOW THAT
On Shabbat making a noise with any device designed for that purpose is
forbidden. The prohibition covers bells, rattles, flutes and whistles. All
devices of this nature are muktzeh and may not be moved except in special
circumstances as outlined in the laws of muktzeh. Whistling with one's
mouth is permitted. One may give a baby toys that make noise when shaken or
squeezed even though such toys are muktzeh but an adult may not make the
noise with a rattle or such toy even to amuse the baby.
[Source Shemirath Shabbath K'hilkhetah chapter 16:2,3]
HIGHLIGHT FROM HOK L'YISRAEL
The Zohar states that when the Jewish people accept the Shabbat and recite
the words "he spreads the Succah of peace'' ["pores Succat shalom"] a great
holiness descends from Heaven upon the Earth and covers the Jewish people
like a mother protecting her children. They are then blessed with a special
additional soul, which makes them feel joy. They are also protected from
the troubles that are usually all around. On the night of Shabbat a person
should taste from all of the delicacies so as to demonstrate that this
Succah of peace is all encompassing.
[Source Zohar Beresheet page 48a]