Parashas Chaiyei Sarah

In this week’s parashah, the Torah relates (Bereishis 24:1): “Now, Avraham was old, advanced in years [literally, had come to days], and Hashem blessed Avraham with everything.” The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 59:6) remarks that Avraham had come to the days of which Shlomo HaMelech speaks in the following verse (Koheles 12:1): “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the bad days come, and the years arrive of which you will say, ‘I have no desire for them.’” The Maggid, in his commentary on Koheles 5:14-15, expounds on this Midrash. He notes that Koheles 12:1 can be re-rendered homiletically as follows: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, so that the bad days will not come, and let the years arrive of which you will say, ‘I have no desire for them.’” The Maggid explains the idea as follows. For wicked pleasure-seekers, the final phase of life is a time of bad, for it is a time when they are unable to satisfy their desires. But for those who remember their Creator, the experience in the final phase of life is different. Hashem allows their physical faculties to remain completely intact in their old age. Yet they no longer have any desire for life in this world, for they have come to set all their sights on the next world.
In relation to this world, the Maggid says, the righteous are like worthy guests, while the wicked are like unworthy guests. A worthy guest is given lavish treatment by his host; he is served choice portions and urged to partake. But he refrains from indulging – he limits himself to just a very little. By contrast, the unworthy guest comes with a voracious appetite, but the host does not cater to him. Similarly, the wicked, as they reach their prime, are increasingly consumed with a wild passion for worldly vanities, but Hashem holds back from satisfying their desires. Instead, Hashem weakens their senses and drives bit by bit, until they are fit for the grave. With the righteous, however, it is just the opposite. Hashem maintains their physical faculties in excellent condition and provides them with plenty – they lack nothing. But they hold back on their own from material blessings, and yearn to depart from this world. Avraham is a case in point. As he reached old age, his intellect matured to the point where he felt utter disdain for worldly vanities. Hashem therefore treated him as a worthy guest, and blessed him with everything.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

1 Comment

  1. North Jerusalem Maggid of Dubno Project » Blog Archive » Parashas Chaiyei Sarah:

    […] and the years arrive of which you will say, ‘I have no desire for them.’” In a previous post, we presented one of the Maggid’s commentaries on this teaching; here, we present […]

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