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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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GENESIS — 23:2 mourn

[D]ating … is a very recent phenomenon … however, there are enough ideas found in Jewish writings that give us an understanding of what constitutes a proper and improper “Jewish date.”  Most teens and even some adults go out on a date because: (1) they wish to have fun or a good time, (2) there is peer pressure to go out (when everyone else is out Saturday night, no one wants it known that they stayed home), or (3) there is a desire for sexual fulfillment. Those people who give a forth reason and say they are dating because they are “preparing for marriage” are rationalizing or are misinformed.  The rate of divorce among heavy daters may be even greater than the rate of divorce among people who get married without much dating.   Dating has never truly prepared anyone for marriage.   All the reasons cited for dating are not “Jewish” reasons.   These reasons are all selfish, and show that the person is out for fulfillment or his or her needs and not for the development of a relationship with the other person. …   When a person is more concerned about the needs of the other person than his or her own needs, it is a genuine relationship.   Most teenagers are not mature enough to forgo their own needs for those of another and hence are not ready for dating in the Jewish sense of the word.   Of course, on a “Jewish” date, the couple is still governed by all the laws regarding no sexual contact and of Yichud.  This is certainly the proper Jewish order: first the nonsexual relationship demonstrating compatibility on the levels of values and interests, and only later will the sexual, physical, emotional relationship come, following marriage … After Sarah died, it says [this verse] that Abraham first eulogized Sarah and then he cried for her.  The intellectual relationship of eulogy preceded the emotional relationship of crying, since in life, too, this was how they lived.   They first related on the nonsexual, intellectual level and only then related on the sexual, emotional level.   When Isaac met Rebecca, the order of their relationship was no different, as it says Genesis 24:67 that first Isaac brought Rebecca to his tent and only afterwards he loved her.  Like his father, Abraham, Isaac first related to his wife on the nonsexual, intellectual level and only then related on the emotional, sexual level.   The laws surrounding Jewish sexuality at first sound a bit outdated because they differ so radically from the attitudes of general society.  However, a careful analysis of this sexual life-style shows a special sensitivity by Judaism for love, sex, and the emotional needs of two human beings of the opposite sex.  AMEMEI 264-5

GENESIS — 23:2 weep

Question: One of the leading Torah authorities of the generation suffered the death of his son, and did not shed even a single tear over him.   Is this a positive attribute, or not?   Answer: This is indeed a negative attribute.  It is indicative of hard-heartedness, and an evil quality of the soul.   It is a trait of cruelty… Crying, mourning and shedding tears for the passing of relatives –let alone for the passing of a righteous individual – is characteristic of the prophets, the saintly and the pious.   Such behavior is indicative of the purity of one’s soul, and of his humility before the Creator.   He will then grieve over his sins, and mourn for his transgressions, which were a cause for this tragedy. [This is, the tragedy of a relative’s passing should lead one to rethink his own conduct and repent for his sins, in the belief that they contributed to the Divine decrees that took the life of this relative.] It was not without reason that our Sages taught (Mo’ed Katan 27b): “Three days [following a death] are for weeping; seven (Shiva) for mourning; thirty (Sheloshim) for [the prohibition of] ironing and haircuts.” Had weeping been considered unseemly, the rabbis would certainly not have instituted three days for this purpose.   So too, with regard to Avraham Avinu a”h, the Torah states [this verse] that he came “to eulogize Sarah, and to week for her.” We find similar examples with regard to Yaakov, King David, and countless others.   EYES 169

GENESIS — 23:4 alien

“I am both a stranger and a resident in your midst,” he tells them [this verse].   This paradox of the first Jew foreshadowed later Jewish existence.   Even today, Jews are both residents – equal citizens of their adopted lands—and strangers.  … Jews in the United States are Americans [etc.] [B]ut they are also distinctively recognized as Jews.  Wherever they are, the Jews represent what is almost a subnation within a nation.   An American Jew and a British Jew often have more in common with each other than with their American and British counterparts.   The Jews have a different New Year from the rest of the world’s, are circumcised, don’t celebrate some of the most important national holidays of their adopted lands, like Easter and Christmas, and are staunch supporters of the State of Israel.   They are both residents and aliens, a people within a people.   BOTEACH 378

GENESIS — 23:4 before

One whose dead one is before him is exempt from all of the mitzvoth of the Torah.  And though the body may not actually be in front of him, still, since it is incumbent upon him to bury it, it is considered as lying in front of him, as it is written: “And I will bury my dead one from before me” Berachot 18a TEMIMAH-GEN 105

GENESIS — 23:6 elect

The biblical exemplar of Kiddush Hashem is Abraham, the first Jews, who made so positive an impression on his non-Hebrew neighbors that they said of him [You are a prince of G-d in our midst”].   There are two activities in particular that Jewish tradition associates with Abraham: teaching people about G-d’s existence and practicing hospitality.   Both are cornerstones of the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem. … For Maimonides Book of the Commandments, Positive Command #3, Abraham’s behavior should serve as a model for his future descendants … indeed, when people speak of Jews as the Chosen People, this is the task for which Jewish tradition understands them to have been chosen: to make known to humankind that there is One G-d, Whose primary demand of human beings is ethical behavior.   Carrying out this mission is the ultimate act of Kiddush Hashem.   TELVOL 1:458-9

GENESIS — 23:6 prince

People looked up to as role models must act as role models. Piety in relation to G-d must be accompanied by exemplary behavior in relation to one’s fellow humans. When people associate religiosity with integrity, decency, humanity, and compassion, G-d’s name is sanctified. When they come to associated it with contempt for others and for the law, the result is a desecration of G-d’s name. [A] radical idea, central to Jewish self-definition, [is] that G-d has risked His reputation in the world, His “name,” by choosing to associate it with a single and singular people. G-d is the G-d of all humanity. But G-d has chosen Israel to be His “witnesses,” his ambassadors, to the world. When we fail in this role, it is as if G-d’s standing in the eyes of the world has been damaged. For almost 2,000 years the Jewish people was without a home, a land, civil rights, security, and the ability to shape its destiny and fate. It was cast in the role of what Max Weber called “a pariah people.” By definition, a pariah cannot be a positive role model. That is when Kiddush Hashem took on its tragic dimension as the willingness to die for one’s faith. That is no longer the case. Today, for the first time in history, Jews have both sovereignty and independence in Israel, and freedom and equality elsewhere. Kiddush HaShem must therefore be restored to its positive sense of exemplary decency in the moral life. That is what led the Hittites to call Abraham “a prince of G-d in our midst” [this verse].   It is what leads Israel to be admired when it engages in international rescue and relief. The concepts of kiddush and chillul Hashem forge an indissoluble connection between the holy and the good. Lose that and we betray our mission as “a holy nation.” The conviction that being a Jew involves the pursuit of justice and the practice of compassion is what led our ancestors to stay loyal despite all the pressures to abandon it. It would be the ultimate tragedy if we lost that connection now, at the very moment that we are able to face the world on equal terms. Long ago, we were called to show the world that religion and morality go hand-in-hand. Never was that more needed than in an age riven by religiously motivated violence in some countries, rampant secularity and others. To be a Jew is to be dedicated to the proposition that loving G-d means loving His image, humankind. There is no greater challenge, nor, in the 21st Century, is there a more urgent one.   SACKS 198-9

GENESIS — 23:12 bowed

People who have an exaggerated perception of their own superiority, based on wealth, power, or fame, will not deign to acknowledge a service rendered by person who they considered beneath their lofty status. Whatever is done for them is viewed as an active obeisance to which their position entitles them. Biblical accounts of exemplary behavior are intended to be viewed as models of ethical conduct. The virtue of appreciation has not been overlooked. The scenario of Abraham’s purchase of a burial plot is one example. Ephron the Hittite offer to make a gift of the desired plot. Abraham was aware that the offer it was a hollow display of showmanship. Nevertheless, he indicated proper appreciation and “bowed down before the people of the land” [This verse]. King David’s deathbed instructions to Solomon included a lesson in appreciation.  “Show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table; for they drew nigh to me when I fled from Absalom thy brother” I Kings 2:7 BLOCH 29

GENESIS — 23:16 current

R. Elazar said: “The wicked say much, and do not do even a little.   How do we know this? From Efron.   In the beginning it is written: “four hundred silver shekels,” and in the end: “four hundred silver shekels current with the merchant,” Efron refusing to take anything but centenaria of far greater value than standard shekels Bava Metzia 87a TEMIMAH-GEN 106

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