Back to Archives

Chayei Sarah

Weekly Parsha Summary

Hashem speaks to Avram, commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” There, Hashem says, he will be made into a great nation. Avram and his wife, Sarai, accompanied by his nephew Lot, journey to the land of Canaan, where Avram builds an altar and continues to spread the message of a one Hashem.

A famine forces the first Jew to depart for Egypt, where beautiful Sarai is taken to Paraoh’s palace; Avram escapes death because they present themselves as brother and sister. A plague prevents the Egyptian
king from touching her, and convinces him to return her to Avram and to compensate the brother-revealed-as-husband with gold, silver and cattle.

Back in the land of Canaan, Lot separates from Avram and settles in the evil city of  Sdom , where he falls captive when the mighty armies of  Chedorlaomer  and his three allies conquer the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Avram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew, defeats the four kings, and is blessed by Malki-Zedek  the king of Salem (Jerusalem).

Hashem seals the Covenant Between the Parts with Avram, in which the exile and persecution (galus) of the people of Israel is foretold, and that eretz Cenan is bequeathed to them as their eternal heritage.
Still childless ten years after their arrival in the Land, Sarai tells Avram to marry her maidservant Hagar. Hagar conceives, becomes insolent toward her mistress, and then flees when
Sarai treats her harshly; an angel convinces her to return, and tells her that her son will father a populous nation. Ishmael is born in Avram’s eighty-sixth year.

Thirteen years later, Hashem changes Avram’s name to Avraham (“father of multitudes”), and Sarai’s to Sarah (“princess”), and promises that a son will be born to them; from this child, whom they should call
Yirtzchok (“will laugh”), will stem the great nation with which Hashem will establish His special bond. Avraham is commanded to circumcise himself and his descendants as a “sign of the covenant
between Me and you.” Avraham immediately complies, circumcising himself and all the males of his household.

Rabbi's Shabbos Message

"And Hashem took Avraham outside and he said to him, 'Look at the heavens and count the stars, if you can count them'. And He said to him, 'So too, will be your descendants" (Bereishis 15:5)

The Baal Shem Tov explaines that the descendants of Avraham are like stars. While here on earth, each star looks like a mere pin prick of light, we know that if we were to somehow come closer to each
individual star, it would be gigantic in proportion.

So too in this world, people seem quite small, but when you get close to them, you realize that they have greatness.

When you realize that each individual has his or her own greatness that you cannot fathom at this time, you will gain a better appreciation
for them and see them in a light you’ve never saw before.

After a meeting, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky and Rav Moshe Feinstein stood outside a waiting car discussing who would sit next to the driver and who would sit alone in the back seat. Rav Yaakov took the front seat. After Rav Moshe left the car, Rav Yaakov explained to the driver, "We were clarifying who would be getting off first. That person, we decided, would sit in the back. If he would sit in the front, the longer riding passenger would be in the back leaving you alone at the wheel, making you look like a chauffeur. But that is not the case. We appreciate your importance and did not want to compromise your dignity."

Treat everybody like a star!