This Week’s Jewish Thought
A Review of our Torah Discussion @ Wesleyan

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By Dr. Vera Schwarcz
Director, Freeman Center for East Asian Studies

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“LIFE AFTER LIFE” 

Dear  Friends,

This week's Torah Buffet was especially animated as we grappled with the tension and links between one’s actions and one’s legacy.  Major questions were raised about what it means to be truly “alive” (beyond the temporary, physical existence marked by our time on earth).

The Torah helps us to see how Sarah’s “life” had a quality of endurance that carried past her death, past Avraham’s death to secure a sense of legacy in the unfolding of the first marriage of an individual raised as a Jew: that of Isaac to Rebbeca.

Avraham accomplished great projects in his single-minded devotion to G‑dliness.  But it was “Chayei Sarah” — the life of his wife, whose death is mentioned in the first verse of this Parsha — where complete “aliveness” radiates.

This is evident in the purchase of the burial plot in Hevron, as well as in Rebbeca’s transformation as she enters Sarah’s death.  The verse states “Hine Sarah imo...” – “Here was Sarah his mother...”  What Isaac might have glimpsed in that first moment when his bride entered the tent is what we continue to bear witness to whenever we choose to continue Jewish values through the saying of kaddish, as well as through Torah learning itself.

As our dear President Michael Roth [congratulations!] put it so well, “Avraham's life IS the life of Sarah.”  [We wish him a joyous inauguration].

Shabbat Shalom to all!