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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Keturah

Parshat Chayei Sarah begins with the announcement of the death of Sarah followed by Avraham's subsequent actions, including mourning his beloved, purchasing her a burial plot and sending his trusted servant to find a wife for his silent son, Yitzhak. It is that servant, called Eliezer by the commentators, and Yitzhak's bride to be, Rivka, who dominate the parsha. It is only after Yitzhak takes Rivka to his mother's tent to be his bride and help him mourn his mother's loss, that we learn that Avraham takes another wife by the name of Keturah. Keturah, a name that suggests the fragrances of the sacrifice becomes Avraham's second wife.

The commentators are curious as to who Keturah might be? A number of them believe that she was Hagar, the concubine who gave birth to Yishmael while others disagree and say that she was Keturah, a person with her own identity. Avraham and Keturah go on to have children together and at the end of the parsha it is said that .... Abraham breathed his last, dying at a good ripe age, old and contented; and he was gathered to his kin. (Genesis 25:8)

It was noteworthy how Torah says that Avraham was contented at the time of his death.


For this week's post, I imagined Avraham after the death of Sarah and the marriage of Yitzhak. What did he do with his days? Was he old and sad, lonely and frightened? To be a widow or a widower must be a lonely existence. I like to think that just as Avraham was comforted by Keturah in his old age, that widows and widowers sometimes find companionship and even love in their twilight years. This is a poem for them and these relationships of old age. I hope that it provides respect, reverence and love to those they lost, but perhaps it also contains the hope that connections can be kindled even in old age.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom.

May we hear good news soon.


Leann



Keturah


White whiskers, stained shirt, grimy glasses, Abraham stares at the blue screen. Thoughts scatter like crumbs on the faded sofa while the old  blue Parakeet shrilly chirps in corner of what was her kitchen. His Sarah. The news drones on. Volume 37.

He hears her voice whisper in his ear as he nods off again. Take your pills. He is covered with the heavy blanket of aloneness while yesterdays pile up like the towering stack of old newspapers by the wall.

His children are so far away. So damn busy. The phone sits silent in a room of substitute noise.


Get up, old man.

Go forward from these doors.

Lech Lecha

for Keturah awaits you; a new beloved, her hair done just yesterday,

nails freshly polished red, her smile bittersweet and knowing.


Be my bride, my ancient one.

Warm my bones, my bed.

My blue couch awaits you.

Join me for tuna sandwiches, potato chips and other earthly delights

while we still walk this earth.

Speak to me over the voices of the parakeet

And I will shout to you over the din of 24 hour news.

Such joyous sounds.


Oh Keturah, my fragrant octogenarian princess ,

You will never be my beloved Sarah, whose voice I still hear at night,

and I will never be your first beloved,

but here I am.

Take me as I am, flawed and stubborn,

but I offer you companionship and perhaps even love?

Let us join hands and go forward, for there is still life to live.

We shall leisurely stroll the paths of the complex.

You will gently assist me with my balance and I shall remind you to take your pills.

You will laugh at my silly jokes and I shall listen to the stories of your youth.


We shall smile the warm smiles of rediscovery, for we have each other

and perhaps that is enough for right now,

for wasn't it once written that humans were not meant to  be alone?


 

This poem was based on the following quotes from Parshat Chayei Sarah

Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:67 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Genesis 25:1



 

For more information on the Midrashim associated with Ketura:





 



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