Memories of Mother

After Sarah's death, Isaac sees his mother live on in the values and person of his wife, Rebekkah.

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Problems for the Future

My student Sally Magid suggests that the type of love Isaac felt toward Rebekah was the root of their future family problems. He admired her, which was different from loving her in the way a wife wants to be loved. The result was an overall incomplete communication flow between the two and a lack of agreement on how to raise their twin sons. We learn in the next parashah that Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob; instead of agreeing on which son to bless, Isaac makes a unilateral move toward Esau and Rebekah thwarts him by arranging for a disguised Jacob to get the blessing.

Perhaps Haye Sarah is, after all, a revealing title for this parashah. It might be that for Isaac, Sarah is not really dead. Her character is reincarnate in Rebekah. If this is so, we can sympathize with Rebekah, excuse her for arranging Isaac to be tricked in the matter of the blessing, and maybe even applaud her for it. It is hard to be the object of a certain kind of admiration, where the admired one is just that--an object. A better kind of admiration is that which develops from reciprocity and a healthy relationship. From this parashah one can draw the lesson that even God does not crave an admiration so strong that it blinds the admirer to the desires of the admired.

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Lewis Warshauer teaches topics in Judaism to adult study groups in a variety of venues. Among his interests are family dynamics in the Bible and art as interpretation of Jewish texts. He was ordained at Jewish Theological Seminary and is based in New York.