A Water from the Well blog post, Parashat Hayei Sarah
written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman
After the trauma of the Akeida (the binding of Isaac onto the altar by his father Abraham) and after the death of Sarah, the Torah seeks out healing. The Torah seeks out the only possible path forward for healing: loving-kindness-hesed. It is the path of loving-kindness that will enable the survivors of trauma and loss to survive and move forward.
After mourning Sarah’s death, Abraham performs his final act of hesed, of loving-kindness for her by seeking out and acquiring for her, a burial place. After this episode he sends out his servant Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer is on a hesed-seeking mission. He asks for G-d’s help in finding a woman who will not only offer him water after his long desert journey but who will recognize the thirst of his camels as well. He seeks a woman whose loving-kindness knows no distinctions.
Water: the symbol of life-giving hesed flows from the jugs of Rivkah – a universal hesed, for human beings and animals alike. And it is this quality of hesed that will be a comfort to Isaac, a source of healing for him after the recent traumas in his life.
And Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebecca as his wife. Isaac loved her and found comfort after his Mother’s death. (Gen, 24:67)
Today, after the election, as we begin to consider a new path forward for our country, yet as we are still in the grips of a deathly pandemic, it is the comfort of hesed that we need; life-giving, tender and easily accessible loving-kindness. There is much healing work to be done in our land as we face our nation’s shadows and begin, for the first time, to really listen to each other’s stories.
In this week’s Torah portion, Eliezer, the faithful servant of Abraham lays out a path forward. He can only take this journey if it is a journey toward love. He makes a clear request that he is on the hunt for lovingkindness. This is the only way forward for Abraham’s family and this is honestly, the only way forward for us- the human family. So, let us continue to seek it out as well. Let us be on a hunt for kindness. Let us seek it within and without.
And let our seeking be a finding, and an allowing- let us allow the waters to flow- the waters of grief and the waters of love for humanity.
As we move forward let hesed – lovingkindness be the scale against which we measure all of our actions, all of our choices, and all of our votes. Let hesed-lovingkindness be the scale against which we measure our connections with one another and our strength as a community. We are all bound up in one another. May we recognize this as our strength and our blessing.