PARSHAT CHAYEI SARAH: THE FUNDAMENTAL LESSON
This article was written by Ariel Nourollah (’22) Torah Editor and contributor at the Valley Torah Scroll.
For the eternal merit to the soul of my grandfather Yitzchak Aziz Ben Mashallah Hacohen A”H
At the beginning of the Parsha, we read about how Avraham Avinu was very busy negotiating for the burial place for his great wife, Sarah Imeinu. We find an involved back-and-forth discussion between Avraham, the people of Cheit, and Efron. What is the Torah trying to teach us by elaborating on the negotiations of a burial plot?
While we can take many lessons from each and every detail of the discussion, there is one underlying lesson that threads through the entire discussion. This is the fundamental lesson that life does not end after death. Rather, it is just the beginning of true life. That is why the Torah makes such a big to-do of a burial plot, as Jewish burial is not merely a place to put the deceased. Rather, burial is done with the realization that there is a soul connected to this body that lives on, and that one day this body will come alive once again at Techiat Hameitim (Resurrection of the Dead) As the Mishnah (Avot 4:16) tells us, this world is like a corridor before Olam Habah (the World-To-Come).
Rav Avigdor Miller, O”BM, used to say that people don’t talk about Olam Habah because the Evil Inclination deludes them. For if we were to discuss it, this would help us a lot in our service of Hashem. Rav Miller said that a good place to strengthen our belief in Olam Habah is when we say at the end of davening (in Uva L’tzion), “May we merit the days of Moshiach and the life of Olam Habah.”
Besides helping us focus on our life’s purpose, being aware of Olam Habah helps us cope with the challenges and pitfalls of This World, as by contemplating it, we realize that it is only a temporary world.
Rav Aryeh Levin, O”BM, left in his will that his family should inscribe the statement of belief in the afterlife on his tombstone. A woman had lost a child and was shattered beyond consolation by the tragedy. Upon visiting Rav Aryeh’s tombstone, she was struck by the engraving of the statement of belief in the Afterlife. She repeated this statement to herself many times and was thus able to go on with her life. May we merit only joy in this World and true joy in the World To-Come!