Vertluch: Parshas Chayei Sorah


After last week’s spellbinding account of the akeida, this week we start off by revealing the death of Sara Imeinu. The pasuk says (23: 2) ‘Sara died in Kiryas Arbeh……and Avraham came to eulogize Sara and to bewail her.’ Rashi comments that the reason why the parsha of Sara’s death is juxtaposed to the story of the akeida is to tell us that when Sara heard that her son was nearly slaughtered, her soul departed from her body.

The gemara in Bava Basra (16) relates the conversation the Satan had with Hashem, in reference to the story of Iyov. The Satan tells Hashem ‘I have flown around the world and I haven’t met anyone who served you like Avraham did. There is no one in this world like him.’ What was his proof? The Satan continued, ‘Avraham was told that you’ll give him the land (Eretz Yisroel) and yet, when he had to bury Sara he had to pay for a burial plot. And throughout the whole ordeal Avraham did not utter a complaint to Hashem.’

When one mentions the holy name ‘Avraham Avinu’ what does a person associate it with? The ten nisyonos, chessed, hachnasas orchim, etc…why did the Satan select this specific episode when he was proving to Hashem that no one in this world serves him like Avraham did?

Rav Leib Bakst Zt’l answers with a very powerful point.

If you’ll notice, the pasuk ends off with the word ‘V’livkosa, to bewail her.’ In the spelling of this word the Torah uses a small ‘kof’. Why is that letter small? The GR”A explains that Avraham was careful not to cry too much for Sara. He thought if he would wail and moan excessively, it would appear as if he regretted the whole ma’aseh akeida, which ultimately led to Sara’s death!

If we were to study this for a moment and think about what happened, we would find it astounding. Avraham passed the biggest nisayon in the world; almost slaughtering his only son. He had also just lost his wife. Yet, he contemplated that he might lose his reward for having the smallest doubt in what was done, so he made sure not to cry too much!

The gemara in Kedushin (40) says that if a person was a tzaddik gamur his whole entire life and at the end of his life he rebels, he loses all his zechusim he previously accumulated. The gemara concludes, that this only applies when the person had regrets for all the good that he did. That means, that just like by virtue of repenting one has the ability to totally uproot his misdeeds, so too by a good deed should someone regret what he has done he loses all his reward.

Sometimes a person has a nisayon to do something good and when he finishes it, he feels good. However, the nisayon isn’t over just yet because the Satan comes along and tries to get the person to regret the good they have just done so they can lose their reward. He’ll say ‘look what happened because of the good you have done.”

This is why the Satan used this as his example. Hashem told Avraham that he will have a son; Hashem then gave him a child. He proceeded to tell him to slaughter this son and Avraham listened. He promised him Eretz Yisroel for that and then Sara died. When Sara died, he had no place to bury her. It was at this point that Avraham could have regretted everything he had previously done for Hashem and given up his faith in Him! From the fact that he didn’t, said the Satan, is my proof that no one serves you like Avraham. It was at this moment where the inner strength of Avraham shone the brightest!

This can also explain what we say in Maariv. ‘V’haser satan milfaneinu u’mayacharaynu’; we ask Hashem to remove the Satan from in front of us and from behind us.’ What does it mean from behind us? The Satan tries to highlight all the negative effects of our good deeds, after we do them, in order to bring us to regret what we have done. It is this that we ask Hashem to help us prevent.

May we all be zoche to not only endure all of our challenges but to never regret a good deed we do and in this zechus may Hashem bring us the geula, speedily in our days.