Shabbat Shalom: A Little Light
By: Jenna Raimist
Director of Annual Campaign
In Parashat Chayei Sara, Sara dies at age 127, and Abraham buries her in Machpelah in the land of Canaan. As a direct result of his family’s loss, and a byproduct of feeling his age, Abraham embarks on a new journey: finding a wife for his son, Isaac. He sends his oldest and most trusted servant with a dowry, including ten camels, to go to Nahor to find and bring back a wife for Isaac. As he and the camels stop outside the city for a drink of water, he hopes to find a woman generous and kind enough to allow all eleven of them water from her pitcher. That’s when we meet Rebecca, who does just that. After Rebecca brings the news of this opportunity home to her family, her brother, having seen gifts of gold adorning Rebecca’s body, goes to greet Abraham’s servant. He speaks of his task brought on by Abraham, and Rebecca’s family ultimately decides, with Rebecca’s agreement, to send her to marry Isaac.
What strikes me most is how little time this story spends on the grieving and burial of Sara; rather, the majority is focused on the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca and the series of events after Sara’s death. That said, who am I, and who is anyone, to tell someone how long to mourn, grieve, or sit in the darkness? Especially now when the world seems the darkest it’s been in my thirty years of life. As a Jewish professional, the work I, and we, do every day is particularly important now, but with that, it’s also harder than ever to wake up every day and do it amidst the grief.
Near the end of the text, we learn that Abraham takes another wife and after many more years, he dies satisfied at the age of 175. We also learn that only after marrying and loving Rebecca does Isaac find comfort from the loss of his mother. Honoring the darkness but finding light along the way has been the only thing, besides the importance of this work, keeping me going this last month. Being part of a collective peoplehood all working through, not around, tragedy has been my little glimmer of light in the darkness. I hope, in whatever way you process and grieve, that you’re able to honor the darkness with a little light, as they honored Sara.
Please email Jenna Raimist at email@example.com with questions or comments.