Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Chayei Sarah

“And Sarah lived” Genesis 23:1

    Why did Sarah die? Of the many possible correct answers, Modern Hebrew would confusingly respond “Poh kavur hakelev” (literally, “Here is where the dog is buried”).

    Now why the exact burial place of a dog means“You have hit the nail on the head”, I just did not know until a colleague explained it to me as follows: “Everyone knows where people are buried. So, if you know where the dog is buried, you have rare information. You have truly hit the nail on the head”.

    Now, we know why Sarah was buried (she died) and even where (the Cave of the Machpelah in Hebron) but why did she die? Aviva Zornberg writes that she died of a terrible truth (fed to her by Satan) that Abraham was committing infanticide, and so she wailed herself to death with a sound like the cries of the shofar, never knowing that Isaac would return from Mt Moriah unharmed.

    Or, Dr Zornberg tells us, she died of the unbearable realisation that Isaac came so close to dying. So close. Sarah dies from an “as if” obsession: her beautiful child nearly died and the “as if” is more than she can live with. Have we yet reached a poh-kavur-hakelev moment? How many of us live lives of dread? The recession nearly got me. My child was nearly let go. What if the consultant’s report had been “malignant”?

    No, Sarah died because there is “a time to be born and a time to die” (Kohelet). Poh kavur hakelev.

Sidrah

Lech Lecha

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Lech Lecha
Sidrah

Chol Hamo'ed

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Chol Hamo'ed
Sidrah

Nitzavim

Rabbi Larry Tabick

Nitzavim
Sidrah

Noach

Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton

Noach
Sidrah

Ha'azinu

Rabbi Daniel Roselaar

Ha'azinu
Sidrah

Ki Tavo

Maureen Kendler

Ki Tavo
Sidrah

Bereshit

Rabbi Joseph Dweck

Bereshit
Sidrah

Vayelech

Dr Lynndy Levin

Vayelech
Sidrah

Ki Tetzei

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Ki Tetzei