Many commentators have noted the irony that this week’s Torah Portion, Hayyei Sarah, literally means “The Life of Sarah,” when in fact it opens with a depiction of her passing. Indeed, Hayyei Sarah – perhaps more than any other portion – is indelibly informed by the theme of life and death. In particular, our portion is particularly poignant in its description of the profound duty of the living to the dead – and the ways in which life inevitably continues in the wake of ultimate loss.
How do we live after the death of someone we love?
By acting with honor and loyalty…
Then Abraham rose from beside his dead, and spoke to the Hittites, saying, “I am a resident alien among you: sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.” (Genesis 23:3-4)
By providing for our future:
Abraham answered him…”The Lord of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from my native land, who promised me an oath, saying, ‘I will assign this land to your offspring’ – He will send His angel before you and you will get a wife for my son.” (Genesis 24:6-7)
Through the eternal possibility of love:
Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebecca as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death. (Genesis 24:67)
Through reconciliation, forgiveness and peace:
And Abraham breathed his last, dying at a good ripe age, old and contented; and he was gathered to his kin. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah… (Genesis 25:8-9)