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Chayei Sarah |  25 Cheshvan 5776  |  November 7th, 2015  |  Issue 624

Dedicated in memory of Avraham Drazin z"l

   Gabi Raiss

Former Shaliach in Cape Town (2001-2)
Currently Youth Director of the Chomat Shmuel neighborhood

On Weddings and Funerals.
This week’s Parsha, Chayei Sarah, was the first Shabbat of my shlichut in Cape Town, South Africa. Between Mincha and Maariv one of the Shlichim told this short and funny story:  A young Jewish man went to New York City for the first time. As he was alone, and knew no one there, he decided to look for a fellow Jew to ask for help. He opened a phone book, and found the name Robert Cohen, so he thought to himself: “Cohen - he must be a Jew!”. He called Mr. Cohen, and said: “Hellow, I’m new in town, I’m Jewish, and I figured, as you are a Jew too, you’ll be able to help me”.  Mr. Cohen replied: “ I understand, but I’m not Jewish.” “What do you mean, you’re not Jewish?! your name is Cohen!”.  Mr. Cohen said: “Yeah, I’m not Jewish; my father wasn’t Jewish; and even my Grandfather, Olov Hasholem, wasn’t Jewish!”.  

In this Parsha, there are two events that occur in every person’s life. In these two events, most Jews, even not observant ones, choose to have the ceremonies in the traditional Jewish form. The first event is when someone, unfortunately, dies; even if one didn’t foster his Jewish identity, he still wishes to be buried as a Jew. The second event is much happier; I believe most Jews choose to get married in a Jewish traditional wedding. In this Parsha we read about these two events: the burial of Sarah, and the wedding of Yitzhak. I looked for a connection between these events or ceremonies, in our Parsha and in general.
I began looking at the source of the ceremonies, the Rambam on Hilchot Avlut (chapter 1, Halacha 1) says: “it is a Mitzvat Asse (positive commandment) to mourn your relatives: ‘…and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been well-pleasing in the sight of the Lord?’ (Leviticus 10, 19); according to the Torah, the mourning is mandatory only on the first day, the day of death and burial, as Aharon mourned his sons. The rest of the Shiva, the seven days we have today, is not a Torah commandment, even though it is said about Joseph: ‘…and he made a mourning for his father seven days.’ (Genesis 50, 10).
Moses was the one to give Israel the custom, the Minhag, to have seven days of mourning, and also the seven days of Sheva Brachot after the wedding ceremony.” The Rambam himself connected these two life events and ceremonies. All adjudicators agree with Rambam regarding the mandatory to hold only the first day of mourning, as well as only the actual wedding ceremony. The rest of the seven days, in both weddings and burial, are a rabbinical obligation. Some adjudicators say that on the seven days of Sheva Brachot, the couple are prohibited to do any labor (Melacha), as well as people in mourning. In both cases there is a first year issue: one year for a husband to please his wife, and one year of saying Kaddish. Both events are connected and feature similar numbers (one day, one week, one year). 

I believe there is an even deeper link. In our Parsha, when Yitzhak brings Rivkah to his tent, after his mother’s death, the Torah says ‘And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for his mother’ (Genesis 24, 67). A Midrash says that as long as Sarah lived, a candle burned from Shabbat to Shabbat, there was blessing in the dough and a cloud was tied to the tent. When she died, these three miracles ended, and began again when Rivkah came to live in that tent. Rabeinu Behayey explains that Yitzhak had not recovered his mother’s death, until he married Rivkah. Rashi also says a man takes comfort of his mother’s death when taking a wife. 

I humbly suggest my own commentary to the connection between those events and ceremonies. 

One of the things a person in mourning does is say Kaddish for one year. In Kaddish, when we say “Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba”, we ask to exalt and sanctify the name of G-d. Why is it so important to say this when someone dies? It is because that, in fact, every Jew has the potential to expose and reveal the existence of G-d in the world. That is to say, when a Jew dies, we wish to sanctify G-d’s name in the absence of the soul who passed away; thus, no praise is missing with the loss of the deceased.
In marriage we praise an even greater potential being created, as a match, a Zivug, can bring more ‘potentials’ to the world to sanctify the name of the Lord. We lose a ‘potential’ in a funeral, as a person dies; we gain a greater potential in a wedding. This is a strong link between the events of life and death.  We compensate a loss of a ‘potential’ in funeral by creating a new one in a wedding.    
Around The World
Torah MiTzion Washington had an "Israeli Motzei Shabbat", where the Juniors made falafel, chumnus, and shakshuka
Eliezer Noy of Torah MiTzion Munich spoke at the Conference of European Zionist Rabbis
 The Shlichim in Memphis led a group of participants in the 'Emergency Solidarity Rally For Israel' at one of the major intersections in Memphis.
To read more about the event, which was organized by Memphis Friends of Israel, view this article. Visit the Torah MiTzion Memphis Facebook page
for more pictures from the rally.

     Arik Speaker                                   In cooperation with:

'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

Kibbutz Beit Alfa is located in the Yizrael Valley, just west of Beit Shean. The kibbutz was founded by members of Hashomer Hatzair from Poland and Galicia in 1922 and this is the first kibbutzim in Israel that was founded by members of the Hashomer Hatzair.
Beit Alfa is named after an ancient Jewish settlement which was located there until the 6th century AD. It was later replaced by an Arab town named Beit Ilfa.

Regarding the interpretation of the ancient name there are two theories: one that it comes from "Aluf", meaning bull, which would indicate that it was a place where bulls were raised. The second theory is that it comes from the word 'ulpana', which means a place of study, or school.

Beit Alpha is also famous because of the remains of the ancient synagogue which is attributed to the original Jewish settlement there (though it is actually located in Hephziba, a nearby kibbutz). The synagogue was active during the Byzantine period in Israel and received fame in modern times thanks to its splendid mosaics. They are seen as evidence of the existence of Jewish life in Israel for centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple. The building was declared a national park.
The mosaic includes paintings of the Temple vessels, the zodiac signs and a description of Akedat Itzchak.

Yasher Koach to 

Noam Schlesinger
for providing the
correct answer

                                                                                         Where was this photo taken?

Please send answers to -

The answer, further information
about this location as well as the
  name of the  first person to recognize this site will be published in next week‘s edition. 

Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with the love for Torah,
the Jewish People and the State of Israel. 

Over the past twenty years Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired
and enriched their host communities through a wide range of
high impact formal and informal

educational programs. 

In cooperation with :

Partnering with My Shteiblech, which contains very accurate and fresh information
of what's going on in the 
Religious Anglo Community in Israel.