Shabbat Hayei-Sarah 5773

Two weeks ago, in Parshat Lekh-Lekha, we read the story of Avraham the Warrior, victorious in the battle that rescued his nephew, Lot. Much has happened to him in the interim, but now, in Parshat Hayei-Sarah, we see him at the end of his life, undertaking one more challenge. It’s time to find a wife for Yitzhak, so he dispatches his servant back to the old country, Haran, to find one of trustworthy stock.

The way the Torah narrates the war story is fascinating. It doesn’t mention many details we might expect to find in a battleground narrative. How many soldiers were there in the two armies? What weapons did they use? How many casualties? What were the contents of the spoils of war? We aren’t given answers to any of these questions. Rather, we are supposed to draw conclusions about Avram, as he was called in those days, from the details we do have.

What do we learn about him? “The story serves to emphasize the virtues of loyalty to family, the redeeming of captives, the disdain of material reward, and faith in the power of the few against the many.” So wrote Professor Nahum Sarna in his commentary to Genesis in the JPS Torah Commentary (p. 103).

Fast forward to this week’s reading. In what way, if at all, are these virtues of Avram the Warrior evident in the life of Avraham the Veteran? We’ll explore this question together in shul as we celebrate Veterans’ Shabbat. 

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi David Wise