Parshas Chayei Sora

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Rav Morenshtern on the Parasha

Text of Parshas Chayei Sora

  • Dei Chochmah LNafshechah Parshas Chayei Sora


    Shalosh Seudos1 of Parshas Chayei Sora 5767

    " , .

    ; ".

    And the life of Sora was one hundred and twenty and seven years, these were the years of Soras life. And Sora died in Kiryas Arba, which is Chevron in the land of

    Canaan; and Avraham came to mourn Sora and weep for her.2

    Rashi explains that the burial place was called Kiryas Arba after the four giants that were there: Achiman, Sheishai, Talmai, and their father. Another possible reason was on account of the four couples who would rest there: 1) Adam and Chava; 2) Avraham and Sora; 3) Yitzchak and Rivkah; and 4) Yaakov and Leah. Rashi also explains that Avaraham came from Beer Sheva. In addition, he elucidates why the death of Sora is recorded immediately after the akeidah: Sora expired upon hearing the news that her son was prepared for the slaughter and had barely escaped from the knife. [The actual term in Rashi is: , which translates as he was nearly not slaughtered. This requires further explanation.]

    Maaras HaMachpelah: The Four Hundred Worlds of Yearning The commentaries are perplexed about the language used by Rashi: he was

    nearly not slaughtered.3 It would appear as though he should have said, he was nearly

    slaughtered. The verse continues: " , a - a k

    e - ; - , " Efron said, My master, hear me; a piece of land

    1 The lesson was delivered at the third meal of Shabbos.

    2 Bereishis 23:1-2

    3 See Maskil Ldovid and Gur Aryeh

  • Dei Chochmah LNafshechah Parshas Chayei Sora


    worth four hundred shekel of silver, what is that between us? Therefore, bury your dead.4 [Although Efron first protested that Avraham did not have to pay him, when pressed he specified a sum of four hundred silver pieces.]

    The Zohar HaKadosh explains the significance of this amount. The four hundred silver [kessef] shekel pieces correspond to the four hundred worlds of yearning [kissufin] that are drawn down from the four rows of white between the hairs of Kesser / Crown. This is an aspect of the Loven Haelyonthe Supernal Whiteness.5

    " i- k ... q k a "

    ...And Avraham weighed out to Efron the silver...four hundred shekel of silver, money negotiable with the merchant.6 [The original of this last phrase is oveir lasocheirliterally, transferable to the merchant.] Socheir also implies circular () and alludes to the whiteness of Kesser which encircles the [Supernal] Head, as it were.7 This represents the makif, the level just beyond what one can grasp intellectually, which circles the mind without being fully absorbed within.

    The Chessed LAvaraham writes that Maaras HaMachpelah is the entry to the lower Gan Eden, which is itself the path to the higher Gan Eden.8 Rav Aharon of Strashuleh writes that the Maaras HaMachpelah is an aspect of the Shem HaVaYaH in

    its 52-permutation form. [ " " " " = 52] In this particular permutation, the root letters [ -- - ] and the additional letters for articulation are the same. (Although it appears as though the articulation letters vav and dalet that fill out the first yud are not the same, we do see that they share the same numerical value as their root letter, which is ten.) When one connects to Hashem, he grasps Hashem in an aspect of Chochmah / Wisdom, which is symbolized by the expansion of the Name in which his experience is rooted. [The plain unexpanded Name represents the undiluted light of Kesser, while the

    4 Bereishis 23:15

    5 Zohar I:123b

    6 Bereishis 23:16

    7 See Shaar Maamarei Rashbi, Peirush HaIdra Rabbah Kadisha

    8 Chessed LAvraham 3:10

  • Dei Chochmah LNafshechah Parshas Chayei Sora


    expansion is associated with Chochmah. The expansion could be considered less pure than the undiluted light of Kesser, since at that level one is completely subsumed in the Creator without the mediation of a personal experience or sense of self. Absolute self-nullification is represented by the Shem HaVaYaH without any articulation.

    Someone who experiences the revelation associated with the 52-Name, where the root letters and the expansion letters are identical, reaches a state of self-nullification that is equivalent to that which is found in Kesser.

    When one enters the aspect of the 52-Name, Maaras HaMachpelah, he attains the level of the four hundred worlds of yearning. At this point, he is completely filled with a powerful yearning to learn and understand Torah. This feeling is what the sages referred to when they said, The jealousy of sofrim / scholars increases wisdom. [The term jealousy is meant to convey yearning. The Gemara writes that the sages were called sofrim (scribes) which literally means counters, since they counted every letter of the Torah.]

    A person on this level contemplates the paths of the tzaddikim and their longing to plumb the great depths of Torah, and he longs to merit this.

    Sora Imeinu and the Divine Service of Yearning This was the level of our mother Sora, who was an aspect of holy child-like

    freshness and renewal. Our sages taught: When Sora was one hundred, she was as twenty; and when she was twenty, she was as seven.9 Similarly, every person must attain this element of holy child-like freshness and determination to pursue his spiritual objectives. Like a child, he must be relentlessly single-minded and never rest until he achieves his goal.

    One should never allow his personal satisfaction with his present level to devolve into complacency that keeps him from attaining his further goals and fulfilling his full potential in learning. He must persevere until he truly acquires mastery in all

    9 Bereishis Rabbah Parsha 58:1, as brought in Rashis comments on Bereishis 23:1.

  • Dei Chochmah LNafshechah Parshas Chayei Sora


    aspects of Torah and grasps the entire contents of the Kings treasury, until he is able to tour all the palaces of the King. He will not rest until he has tasted all the spiritual delights, until he has attained the greatness of the tzaddikim. He will continue to yearn until he finally merits what the Zohar describes as complete incorporation into the body of the King.10 [This means being completely subsumed in Hashem, without a sense of individuated self.]

    Such a person would never allow himself to feel old [emotionally worn out], which is the result of laziness. As most people get older, they give up on ever achieving their spiritual potential. Their yearning wanes because they feel sure that they will never be truly close to Hashem. However, one who has this attribute of our mother Sora never gives up and is filled with ever stronger yearning to draw near to Hashem. He continues yearning until he draws down a revelation of Hashems light in this lower world.

    This is the secret of the Divine service of Dovid HaMelech. As the verse states:

    " - k '" My heart and soul were consumed with longing for the courtyards of Hashem.11 Even so, the Midrash teaches that whatever

    Dovid tried to do, did not work out as he had planned.12 " z

    - " I planned my ways, and I returned my feet to [the path of] Your laws.13 The sages explained that even when Dovid wished to go somewhere. his feet took him to the beis medrash. The Vilna Gaon added that this indicates that although things often didnt go his way, he never gave up on fulfilling his potential in Divine service. [Although he planned his ways and was diverted, nevertheless every step was toward the house of studythe house of Divine service.]

    The Root of Yearning and the Tzimtzum After one traverses the four hundred worlds of yearning he ascends to the very

    first tzimzum or primordial constriction of the Divine presence, which is an aspect of

    10 Zohar I:217b

    11 Tehillim 84:3

    12 Yalkut Shmuel 22

    13 Tehillim 119:59

  • Dei Chochmah LNafshechah Parshas Chayei Sora


    tehiru ilaah. [The Ramah MiPano explains that when Hashem wished to create the universe, He required a vacated space that would be free of overt G-dliness so that free will could exist. For this purpose, He constricted His essence, as it were, and formed a space that could appear void of G-dliness. Of course, the G-dliness was still there, only hidden. This first place void of all overt G-dliness is called tehiru ilaah.14] This aspect is alluded to in the phrase, " -e z " and to dust you [Adam] shall return.15

    Through deep contemplation, one ascends to the source of all Malchus / Kingship which is an aspect of absolute darkness and symbolizes someone who is patiently yearning with the deep understanding that he is powerless to do anything without the Creators help. He recognizes that although he has not attained what he desired in avodas Hashem, he still must wait patiently for Hashems deliverance. This is the deeper meaning of when one sees that he cannot do everything that he planned and hoped to accomplishmuch like Avraham Avinu, who despite all of his preparation and willingness could not sacrifice Yitzchak.

    He Was Nearly Not Slaughtered This is actually the highest possible level in holiness, and one only comes to it

    after being completely subsumed in holy longing for Hashem. One must internalize that he cannot fulfill his longings in Divine service without Hashems help. This level is the

    absolute root of all Malchus / Kingship, since one who reaches this level feels as though he is as powerless as a dead man. Just as he knows that only Hashem can revive a dead man, so does h