A Life Unhindered By Death

Friday, 29 October, 2021 - 3:10 pm

Three theologians were discussing the issue of when life begins according to their respective religious doctrines. While two of them were debating whether it is at conception or at birth, the Jewish one declared, “Jews do not consider a fetus viable until it graduates from medical school.”

This week’s Parsha contains a glaring question that stares you in the face from beginning to end. The name of the Parsha is Chayei Sarah (the life of Sarah), while the Parsha begins with Sarah’s death and burial, continues with the comfort that her son Yitzchak finds in his marriage, and ends with Avraham’s remarriage and subsequent passing. Where in any of this is the life of Sarah? Every single element of the Parsha seems to be exactly the opposite.

Sarah’s life was devoted to her shared mission with Avraham to make the world a G-dly place by teaching people about Hashem. She was also fiercely protective of the welfare of her son Yitzchak, and the future of the nation that would issue forth from him. Each aspect of the Parsha is a fulfillment of her mission. The purchase of the Machpelah cave as a burial plot for Sarah, was the first formal foothold of the Jewish people into what would eventually become the land of Israel. Yitzchak’s marriage to Rivkah, the first Jewish marriage in history, heralded the beginning of our nation’s birth. Avraham’s passing, saw Yishmael defer to Yitzchak, thereby confirming Sarah’s prophetic insistence that Yishmael not be allowed to negatively influence her son. So, in actual fact, the entire Parsha is the life of Sarah, a life unhindered by her passing.

This weekend, Chabad Shluchim from around the world gather for our annual conference. Since I am unable to be there in person, in our era of virtual alternatives, I was able to benefit by watching the live stream of the meeting that began yesterday. I found it very uplifting that the theme of this year’s conference revolves around the mandate that the Rebbe gave us as his emissaries, the last time he addressed the conference in 1991. He declared that our task is now to prepare ourselves and the rest of the world (via our communities) for the coming redemption through Mashiach.

The energy with which the theme is infused this year might lead one to conclude that this is an idea that was just conceived in the last few months. Yet, it is a mandate from 30 years ago. In fact, this week marked the bitter milestone of 10,000 days since the 3rd of Tammuz, 1994, the day that the Rebbe’s physical presence was taken from us. But it is like Chayei Sarah – the life of Sarah, which continues and increases in strength through those who carry on her life’s mission. So too, the Rebbe’s mandate and leadership continues and increases through the work of those inspired by his teachings, with ever-expanding dedication and wonderous accomplishments.

May we merit the realization of this mission very soon with the complete and final Redemption!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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