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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Endings and Beginnings

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

The beginning of Chayei Sarah enumerates the years of Sarah's life which Midrash suggests are the various stages of her life. Directly following her death and the mourning period, Avraham negotiates and purchases the Cave of the Machpelah as a burial place for the family.

It occurs to me, especially after the death of my parents, and being in possession of some of their notes and receipts, that life can be broken down into a series of plans and purchases. This takes up a good deal of time in our lives and somehow leads to a legacy of some sort. In between our plans and purchases, our lives are peppered with the happy occasions and the ordinary interactions between family, friends and business associates. Parshat Chayei Sarah looks at both some of Avraham's transactions and planning for the big life events including the marriage of Isaac. The Parsha comes to a close with the death of Avraham, and he bequeaths his affairs to his son Isaac.


Endings and Beginnings

Life is the space between


and endings

Countless events

we plan and design

A series of purchases

Houses, land, graves

Groceries, clothing

Stocks and bonds

We argue




measure and compare

Our purchases piled

a pyramid of purchases

We are planners

hoping for the best

planning for the worst

We record

Check and

Double check

We carefully assign



Our lives are better

when organized


rows and columns

tiny numbers and letters

standing in line

Appearing as witnesses

that we were here

Things we bought

or sold

We came to terms


or occasionally satisfied

Another check in the box

We did it

For safety

For security,

for legacy

For our children

Our children's children

A legacy of deals

An imprint upon the generations

Life is what is what happens in between


Each of us is a planner

It's a Godly trait

We plan now for ourselves

We plan ahead for our children

Crossing our t's and dotting our i's

Wanting what is best

for those we leave behind

Our legacy, so important

Figures represent thoughts

and concerns

a thousand transactions

Each signature

on a dotted line

Marking our place in this world

setting up a path for the future

leaving our world of receipts behind

A legacy of numbers,

A history of purchases

A mark that once upon a time

we were here

From Sefaria: Parshat Chayei Sarah, Genesis 23: 2-10

Sarah died in Kiriath-arba—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan; and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her.

וַיָּ֙קָם֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י מֵת֑וֹ וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֶל־בְּנֵי־חֵ֖ת לֵאמֹֽר׃ Then Abraham rose from beside his dead, and spoke to the Hittites, saying,

גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁ֥ב אָנֹכִ֖י עִמָּכֶ֑ם תְּנ֨וּ לִ֤י אֲחֻזַּת־קֶ֙בֶר֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם וְאֶקְבְּרָ֥ה מֵתִ֖י מִלְּפָנָֽי׃ “I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.”

וַיַּעֲנ֧וּ בְנֵי־חֵ֛ת אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֥ר לֽוֹ׃ And the Hittites replied to Abraham, saying to him,

שְׁמָעֵ֣נוּ ׀ אֲדֹנִ֗י נְשִׂ֨יא אֱלֹהִ֤ים אַתָּה֙ בְּתוֹכֵ֔נוּ בְּמִבְחַ֣ר קְבָרֵ֔ינוּ קְבֹ֖ר אֶת־מֵתֶ֑ךָ אִ֣ישׁ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ אֶת־קִבְר֛וֹ לֹֽא־יִכְלֶ֥ה מִמְּךָ֖ מִקְּבֹ֥ר מֵתֶֽךָ׃ “Hear us, my lord: you are the elect of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold his burial place from you for burying your dead.”

וַיָּ֧קָם אַבְרָהָ֛ם וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ לְעַם־הָאָ֖רֶץ לִבְנֵי־חֵֽת׃ Thereupon Abraham bowed low to the people of the land, the Hittites,

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אִתָּ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר אִם־יֵ֣שׁ אֶֽת־נַפְשְׁכֶ֗ם לִקְבֹּ֤ר אֶת־מֵתִי֙ מִלְּפָנַ֔י שְׁמָע֕וּנִי וּפִגְעוּ־לִ֖י בְּעֶפְר֥וֹן בֶּן־צֹֽחַר׃ and he said to them, “If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar.

וְיִתֶּן־לִ֗י אֶת־מְעָרַ֤ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בִּקְצֵ֣ה שָׂדֵ֑הוּ בְּכֶ֨סֶף מָלֵ֜א יִתְּנֶ֥נָּה לִ֛י בְּתוֹכְכֶ֖ם לַאֲחֻזַּת־קָֽבֶר׃

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