Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Parashah Chayei Sarah - B’reisheet/Genesis 23:1 - 25:18

Parashah Chayei Sarah - B’reisheet/Genesis 23:1 - 25:18

As I consider this week’s reading, I cannot help but consider a portion of last week’s parashah as well.  This week’s commences with the report of Sarah’s death immediately followed by Abraham’s negotiation for the purchase of a burial plot.  He could have had the plot for nothing, though the method of negotiations in the Middle East must be considered.  However, like King David, he knew that a purchase must be sacrificial.  He was willing to make this sacrifice so that his beloved wife would have a place of rest.  Not only would she have this place of rest, but it would be in the land to which they had been called sixty-two years earlier.

The negotiation that Abraham was conducting was opposite of what most of us would consider good negotiation skills.  As the one-sided bargaining proceeded, the price moved to Abraham’s detriment, yet he felt it a fair deal and and he he consummated it.  For the first time, one called of HaShem had a verifiable claim to a piece of ground in that Promised Land!

What has a value for which one should mediate, or intercede?  Well, he interceded on behalf of any righteous people that there may have been in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah.  However, we find no such action on his part regarding the sacrifice of his son, his only son.  Hmmm!  It kind of makes one think, does it not?  As already mentioned, he brokers a deal for a cave, a burial site.  However, in chapter 24 he sends Eliezer to get a wife for Isaac, and there is no deal making when it comes to the people he is to go to to seek this woman.  The woman must come from Abraham’s kin, and most definitely not from the Canaanites among whom Abraham and his people were presently living.  Likewise, Isaac was not to go back to the original homestead in Haran or Ur, for that matter.  He was to remain in The Land - this was non-negotiable!

Why would Abraham have the chutzpah to beg HaShem for the lives of righteous people who he himself was not living among, and not plead against the sacrifice or permit any such dialogue regarding the marriage partner for his own son, his only son?  Allow me to put forth that during the occurrences of these two aforementioned instances in Isaac’s life, I believe that Abraham had an even greater measure of chutzpah operating within him.  How so, you may well ask.

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, the definition for chutzpah is as follows: 
“strong confidence in yourself so that you can say or do rude or shocking 
things without becoming ashamed or embarrassed. This word usually 
shows that you admire this quality in a person.”
I do admire this quality in Abraham.  I would, however, like to expand the definition a little bit, if you would bear with me. 

I am not so sure that Abraham had this “strong confidence” in himself, rather he had that type of assurance and trust in Another.  Isaac was a son of promise, and that promise emanated from the One whose voice led Abraham.  What is trust, what is belief, if it is not total?  We read in Mark 9:23 - 24 the following:
“Jesus said to him, ‘ If you can believe, all things are possible to him 
that believes.’  And straightway the father of the child cried out and said
with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
We do not read, nor is there even a hint that this thought had entered Abraham’s mind.  It takes chutzpah, and a great measure of it, to have that kind of confidence - confidence in the One Who gave the instruction and also confidence in yourself that you heard it correctly.  Wow!  When I consider this aspect and compare it to where I stand presently, I am lacking much more than Peter was when, after leaving the boat and walking on the water for a few moments, the Lord chastised him by saying, “O ye of little faith” (Mt. 14:31).

Let us not forget the following Scriptures from the Apostolic Writings:  Romans 4:3, Galatians 3, Hebrews 11:17, and James 2:21 - 23.  As children of Abraham, we are children of faith.  May our faith be a faith of and with chutzpah.  May we know when our chutzpah needs to be called into action, and may we know when that action is to be “simply” maintaining a faith and belief in Him and His Word, no matter how shocking it may appear to others; blessed be His name.

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