This week’s Torah Reading is Chayei Sarah. The passage is Genesis 23:1-25:18. Here is a brief commentary from Baruch:
In this week’s Torah portion both Sarah and Abraham die. Let me tell you a secret, you too will one day die (if the Master does not return first). It is at the end of the parashah that the reader learns of Abraham’s death. The text says,
“And Abraham expired and died with good gray hair (Hebrew idiom: at a ripe old age) old and satisfied and he was gathered to his people.” Genesis 25:8
The word which I translated “old” can mean an “elder”. In other words, the emphasis of this word may not simply be his age as the previous phrase refers to this. The intent of this word may be to inform the reader that Abraham lived many years and used this time to make for himself a good reputation. The idea here is that he lived in a way that earned respect from the people and a position of authority. The next word in the text is “satisfied”. It is most important that Abraham was not satisfied with the things he had accumulated, but with the name that he built for himself.
If you were to die today, could you say that you were satisfied with your life? If so, what causes this satisfaction? It was because Abraham was a proper example to his son Isaac that one reads a couple verses later that HaShem blessed Isaac (See verse 11). What are you imparting to the next generation? You may leave a large financial inheritance, but this is not the criteria for your children or those close to you to find the L-rd’s blessing.
Finally, it is very telling that if one reads verse 8 carefully, first it states that Abraham dies, and afterwards that he was satisfied. That means that his satisfaction was not based upon an earthly perspective, but it was after he died and he could see things from a heavenly perspective, that he felt satisfied with his life. This should be the desire of each of us: to look back after death, when we will see things from HaShem’s vantage point (See 1 Corinthians 13:12) and be pleased with how we lived and the decisions we made. It was not a matter of luck which caused Abraham to achieve this, for one reads in several places that “he lifted up his eyes”. This is also a Hebrew idiom referring to seeking G-d’s will. Today, it is through prayer and Scripture that HaShem communicates with His people. The foolish man will not know satisfaction after death, because he does not consult the L-rd in a humble and submissive spirit, ready to hear and obey.