The portion with the title Chayay Sarah – “The Life of Sarah” begins, somewhat inexplicably, with Sarah’s death. If you are reading Torah as a novel (which is possible in Bereshit), Sarah’s demise is as sudden and unexpected as it is tragic. Up until now, our heroes have gone from success to success – blazing trails, speaking to God on mountains, fighting the armies of 5 almost single-handedly, staging daring rescues and cunning deceits. They appear to be able to do no wrong.
It is after perhaps the most incredible adventure of them all – where Isaac escapes sacrifice at his father’s hand mere seconds before the blade falls – that we “discover” Sarah’s passing.
The key, perhaps, is what Sarah’s absence forces Abraham to do: settle down. No more armies or rescues, no more wandering, and in fact, no more speaking with God, either.
In a beautiful bit of insight published in The Women’s Torah Commentary, Rabbi Rona Shapiro notes:
“Perhaps, then, this parashah is called Chaye Sarah, “the life of Sarah,” because with Sarah’s death, Abraham finally learns to live her life; he comes down from the mountain and becomes a man of the heart, a man who cares for his family members and lives out his life on a human plane. He learns to find truth and meaning within the context of his family, in marrying off his son, in raising children, in the small acts of daily kindness that make life holy. Abraham learns that God is not enthroned in heaven, but that God sits wherever human beings let God into their lives…”
SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring feminine (or perhaps feminist) food.
Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.