Sunday, October 24, 2021

Chayei Sarah: What's Love Got to Do With It?

For this year’s E-Torah cycle, we will approach the weekly portion as a springboard for a learning conversation.  Each week will offer a brief commentary, followed by a prompt for discussion, which you can do with a family member or a friend—or on your own as a sort of internal dialogue/reflection.

Isaac took Rebekah as his wife. He loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.

                        -Genesis 24:67

The first time that Torah speaks of one person loving another is in this week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah.  We’ve seen numerous partnerships and relationships in previous passages, but none are described as loving.  Perhaps it is no accident that the description is accorded to Isaac and Rebecca, the only monogamous couple among our patriarchs and matriarchs.  

As with every couple, both before and after them, their relationship is sometimes rocky.  Rebecca and Isaac struggle over infertility, and when they finally have twins, they have very significant differences in how they relate to their boys, Jacob and Esau.  In some key moments, they are not entirely truthful with one another, and at others, they fail to communicate clearly.  

And yet, we read, they alone amongst almost all of the Torah’s characters forged a relationship defined, from the start, by love.

In the Talmudic collection Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers, we learn: All love that is conditional upon something—when that thing perishes, the love perishes.  But love that is not conditional does not ever perish.

Isaac and Rebecca’s love is not easy or perfect, but it does endure.  

Conversation Question:

Reflect on your most significant relationships—romantic, parental, friendship.  What small steps or adjustments might enhance the love you bring to those partnerships and make it more enduring and less conditional?

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