Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Special Love Story: Thoughts on Chayyai Sarah

Often when we think of love stories in the Bible, we assume that marriages were arranged, loveless, and purely commercial and reproductive. However, the love story of Rebecca and Isaac defies the stereotypes. While Abraham's servant does find Rebecca for Isaac, she consents freely to follow him for the sake of marrying Isaac. Moreover, there is a gorgeous scene at the end of the portion that highlights the humanity of their relationship. According to the midrash, not only did Isaac lose his mother Sarah, but Rebecca had also lost her father. We know this, the rabbis say, because only her mother and brother consented to her leaving and blessed her upon her exit. Isaac and Rebecca completed each other in a very profound way. Through their love, they do not replace their parents, but they help each other in the process of healing and creating a new family to call home. Even though it is rare that the Bible tells us about the emotions and inner thoughts of characters, the portion ends with this line:

סז וַיְבִאֶהָ יִצְחָק, הָאֹהֱלָה שָׂרָה אִמּוֹ, וַיִּקַּח אֶת-רִבְקָה וַתְּהִי-לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה, וַיֶּאֱהָבֶהָ; וַיִּנָּחֵם יִצְחָק, אַחֲרֵי אִמּוֹ.

"And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebecca, and she became his wife; and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted after/for his mother." Genesis 24:67

We can never replace another human being. However, our relationships always have the potential to be sources of comfort, healing, and vitality. This week, let us think about how we can play these roles for one another. We can and must seek to complete each other through love and compassion for stronger families and communities. It is a beautiful lesson from our sacred text and an example we should strive to follow.