Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – Chayei Sarah
I found an interesting commentary the other day. I had never seen it or thought about it. I do know that the center word of the Torah is stomach (since everything Jewish revolves around the stomach), but I never thought about the total number of letters. According to the sages, there are 600,000 letters (counting the spaces between letters) in the Torah. According to convention, there are 600,000 Israelites of age to serve in defense of Israel in the Torah. Thus, each person has an equal inheritance and equal ownership of Torah, its teachings and legacies. When Abraham buys the first purchased piece of land in Israel, he lays the cornerstone for this promise – we all share in it, equally.
The cave at Machpelah serves as the burial ground for Sarah and later, for all the matriarchs and patriarchs except for Rachel. Her grave is on the road to Bethlehem. It’s important to note here, that in the American south, there stands a fundamental truth: One is not a local until one has six or seven generations buried in the local cemetery. With this thought in mind, Abraham’s purchase ensures that all of us – all Israel – are locals – no one is a stranger.
On one hand, we make the biblical claim to ancient and ongoing possession of the land. More importantly for me, though, Abraham’s simple act of wanting to honor his deceased wife had such an incredible impact on so many people. Every person counted in the Torah text can only claim his inheritance because of this story. Our return to Israel as our homeland could not be, but for this transaction.
One person can change the world. Too often, we think of “world change” rooting in monumental and epic behaviors and personalities. Truthfully, though, heroism begins with the simple act of care and benevolence. For Abraham, in a land filled with strangers, where he was a stranger, the compassionate act of burying his wife changed the world.
If you want to change the world, be kind in it, example love for it, and demonstrate respect and dignity for all who dwell on it. Not everyone will respond well, but many will, and then more will follow them. Arik Einstein taught us, “You and I, we can change the world.” John Lennon followed up, “You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us, and the world can live as one.” You have no idea how much power for good you have – take the first step – and take your best shot. You will never score if you never try, and yet, often, one shot earns a championship ring.
This is your day to take on the naysayers; the embittered and afraid – your day to demonstrate the power of blessing and perhaps, with one simple act of kindness, you will change the world.