Answering the Hard questions

Parshat Chayei Sarah

Genesis 23: 1 – 25:18

This week’s Torah portion Chayei Sarah begins with Sarah’s death and ends with Abraham’s death.  The first Jewish generation passes in this week’s Torah portion. But in between Abraham is working behind the scenes to ensure that his son Isaac can continue his line by arranging for a marriage for him.  Abraham also prepares his estate and thinks about how he will divide his property among all of his children from his other wives.

But Isaac is the child of his first wife and clearly the one to inherit the mantle of the covenantal promise according to our Torah.

We learn however some important lessons from Abraham in this week’s portion about preparation to die.  First Abraham acquires a burial plot not just for his wife Sarah but for the family.  The Cave of Machpela in the ancient city of Hebron was purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite.  The negotiation and purchase is detailed in the parsha.

Once it is acquired and Sarah is buried; then Abraham goes about ensuring that Isaac’s future is secure by sending his servant Eliezer to acquire a wife for his son. We cannot be sure what will happen but Abraham tries to put the pieces into place that will give Isaac every advantage and help create a new generation that will keep the covenant alive.

This story teaches each of us important lessons still applicable today.  We cannot leave to chance the future. While we cannot control the future we can shape it. We all will face death in the eye at some point. We all must plan for that time.  And we have a responsibility to take care of things rather than ignore them.

Abraham’s caring for his wife Sarah’s final resting place and that of the whole family teaches us that we too should take care of deciding about our own final resting place.  Where will you be buried?  Who will help to take care of your final details?  If you are married does your spouse know your wishes?  If you are single have you thought about what you would want to have happen at your funeral or memorial service?  Will you be buried in the ground or a crypt?  Who will make end of life decisions if you can’t?

These might seem like morbid questions to ask and to answer but this is not something to leave to chance.  And it is not a burden you should place on your loved ones to mind read your wishes.

So please use this week’s torah portion as a spiritual reminder of our duties to our self and our loved ones to prepare and plan and not ignore this important part of our lives.

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