Chayei Sarah is an incredibly challenging Torah portion. There’s just so many things that happen, and for a woman there’s a lot to explore. Reading it this time, however, it was nothing about Sarah or Rebekah that got my attention. It was about Hagar, Yitzhak, and Yishmael.
Just as the story turns to Rebekah and Yitzhak meeting for the time — there is a line that got my attention (Gen 24:62):
And Yitzhak came from the way of Beer-lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the land of the South.
Yitzhak is returning from Beer-lahai-roi, the Well-of-the-Living-One-Who-Sees — Hagar’s well. This is the well that Hagar finds when she runs away from Avram and Sarai before Yishmael is born (Gen 16:14). I was astonished. After his mother dies, Yitzhak goes to Hagar and Yishmael?
But it gets more interesting. Later in Chapter 25 when Abraham dies — both Yitzhak and Yishmael bury him (Gen 25:9).
And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;
First Yitzhak goes to Hagar and Yishmael and then there is enough peace between the brothers that they come together to bury their father. But, it’s even more amazing. The next several lines of the text name the twelve tribes of Yishmael. And then the text says that Yitzhak settled in the Negev — which is Yishmael’s land near the well of Beer-lahai-roi.
The text seems to go to great trouble to make sure we know that there was peace between Yitzhak and Yishmael before they died. I’d never seen this before. It really stunned me. The wisdom of the annual Torah reading cycle really is clear to me in moments like this. I need to start a cycle for the psalms and other writings to ensure that I’m reading them year after year and finding all I can in them.
[tags] torah, chayei sarah, interpretation, peace, yitzhak, yishmael[/tags]