Shabbat Hayei-Sarah 5784

Though Avraham has just buried his beloved wife Sarah, the Torah anticipates his final years as truly golden. “Avraham was now old, advanced in years; and the LORD had blessed Avraham in all things” (Genesis 24:1). The Hebrew word translated as “in all things” is bakol. Of course, the narrative that follows focuses on the one thing Avraham hasn’t received as a blessing–the practical path to grandchildren. That’s why he sends his servant on a mission to find a wife for Yitzhak.

But the rabbinic tradition didn’t always take the word bakol at face value. In fact, one interpretation gives it numerical value. The letters bet kaf lamed add up to 52, which is the same as the word spelled bet nun, the word ben, meaning “son.” But that blessing isn’t news. What is news is a different interpretation that is found in the Talmud: “Rabbi Meir said the blessing was that [Avraham] didn’t have a daughter; Rabbi Yehudah said the blessing was that he indeed had a daughter! Others say that he had a daughter, and her name was Bakkol” (Bavli Bava Batra 16b).

Setting aside the odd argument of the merits or demerits of fathering daughters, what could we possibly learn about the third opinion–that Avraham named his daughter Bakkol? On Shabbat afternoon, I’ll teach a Hasidic text that attunes us to the potential of finding blessing in all realms.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, and Shalom ‘al Yisrael,

Rabbi David Wise

Candle lighting: 4:23 PM
Torah Reading: Genesis 23:1-25:18
Haftarah: I Kings 1:1-31