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Hebrew Calendar

5776
Yom Rishon
19th of Heshvan

Gregorian Calendar

2015
Sunday
November 1st

Tishrei | Heshvan | Kislev | Tevet | Shevat | Adar | Nissan | Iyar | Sivan | Tammuz | Av | Elul
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec

PARSHA HASHAVUAH

GELND | BSVBD


1st Book 
Genesis  | Bereisheit (In the Beginning)

2nd Book 
Exodus | Shemot (The Names)
3rd Book 
Leviticus | Vayikra (And God called)
4th Book 
Numbers | Bamidbar (In the desert)
5th Book 
Deuteronomy | Devarim (The Words)


Weekly Torah Reading:
GENESIS: 23:1 - 25:18 | CHAYEI SARAH
 
SKINNY TIP
Chapter, Colon, Verse, which means 23:1 - 25:18 is chapter 23 verse 1 to chapter 25 verse 18.

CHAYEI SARAH

THE SKINNY

 
The Torah’s five books are an amalgamation of narratives that form the basis of the Jewish people’s overarching “master story”. These narratives serve as contemporary touchpoints for an exploration of identity, values, morality, and life lessons. The Torah’s chapters sometimes read like a gripping novel, with rich character development and riveting plot twists. Other chapters repeat – or even seemingly contradict – previous ones, as if chronological order was an anathema. And some chapters are a random assortment of things, like the texts on your kid’s phone.

In each SKINNY, we explore the Parsha (par – for the course – shah) Hashavuah (ha-shah-voo-ah) – the Torah portion of the week. Sometimes the weekly parsha lends itself to a play-by-play depiction. Other times, there’s so much going on that Team SKINNY takes an Atkins approach: We cut out the carbs and serve up only the meat of the story. Still other times, we pivot to other Torah portions and connect-the-dots to the bigger picture. This week, we're pivoting and dot-connecting, but first: a recap.

The first two peeps, Adam and Eve, lived a happy, naked life in the Garden of Eden. They were evicted after eating the forbidden fruit and forced to forever shop at Abercrombie and Fitch. Next up was Noah who sailed the seas for 40 days with some stinky animals on-board and then repopulated the planet without the help of Ashley Madison. Then there’s the entrepreneurial story of the Jewish start-up nation with Abraham as founder. Like most Tres Comma Club members, Abraham had a stellar C-level team – the patriarchs and matriarchs: Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.

This week’s parsha focuses on the first matriarch, Sarah. The Torah portion is called Chayei (Ch-eye-ay) Sarah (like “Sarah” in English, but instead of a Midwestern-twang, in Hebrew it sounds British). Chayei Sarah means the Life of Sarah, but the Torah portion starts with her death at 127 years old. Abraham buried Sarah in a cave in Hebron, south of Jerusalem, where Adam and Eve and the other C-level execs were also buried after they died.

In addition to living a long life, Sarah had a prolific career in the Jewish start-up nation. (She was Leaning In long before Sheryl.) If we applied the ridiculous job titles of today to the Jewish nation’s corporate structure, then God’s business card would have read: “Chief Vision Officer” because the whole creation thing was God’s idea after all. Abraham’s would have been: “Chief Executive Officer” because he was the company’s founder and first leader. And Sarah’s title would have been: “Chief Strategy Officer” because she formulated policy and developed the plan of action. Sarah also got a lot of media attention for her role in the start-up nation. A midrash (mid-rah-sh) – ancient commentary on the Torah – says that God didn’t bless Abraham because of his Linkedin profile, but because of Sarah’s.

The Jewish start-up nation was a family-run business. Like Alan Cohen and Adi Tarako (the Israeli power couple who started Houzz), Abraham and Sarah were a husband-and-wife team. At one point, God told Abraham, “Everything Sarah says to you, listen to her voice.” (The girls on the SKINNY Team wish God would say the same to our husbands.) In addition to being a hubby-wife team, Abraham was also Sarah’s uncle. Her father, Haran, was Abraham’s brother. (And you thought the The Real Housewives was salacious!)

The Talmud (Tall-mood) – a collection of ancient Jewish laws and customs – says that Sarah was also rockin’ the runway with her beauty. While Hollywood dermatologists won’t confirm or deny it, we at Team SKINNY can tell you that she didn’t have any work done. (We can’t say the same about Madonna.) The Talmud’s even got a sense of humor. It says all the other women looked like monkeys compared to Sarah.

One time, Abraham and Sarah went to Egypt for spring break and the Pharaoh (ruler in ancient Egypt) wanted to take Sarah to be his queen. Convinced that the Pharaoh would kill Abraham, Sarah proclaimed: “Game on!” She and Abe told the Pharaoh they were siblings because the rules of romance back then required that big brother would have to give his consent for Sarah to be crowned queen. The Pharaoh and his clan were suddenly covered in strange sores. Fearing he was being punished for being a male chauvinist pig, the Pharaoh cried: “Uncle!” in the: “I Surrender!” sense not in the: “You’re Not Her Brother, You’re Her Uncle!” sense. The bovine Pharaoh pleaded the fifth and sent Abraham and Sarah off with some curated treats from Eataly.

Meanwhile, during Sarah’s stay at the palace, she had become BFFs with Hagar, who was the Pharaoh’s daughter. Hagar had been listening to Lorde on her boom box. (The iPod hadn’t been invented yet): ♫ And we'll never be royals, royals; It don't run in our blood; That kind of luxe just aint for us; We crave a different kind of buzz.♫  Hagar packed her House of Borel handbag, left the royal life, and became Sarah’s personal assistant. (It was called maidservant back then.)  

Unfortunately, Sarah suffered from infertility. (The Glow fertility app hadn’t been invented yet.) After 10 years of failed IVF, Sarah suggested that Abraham hook up with Hagar to have his child and fulfill God’s promise to make him the Father of a Great Nation. You’ll remember from last week’s SKINNY: Hagar got pregnant and started sassing Sarah for being childless. Sarah sassed back and voted Hagar off the island. An angel came to Hagar and convinced her to return to Abe. Hagar acquiesced and gave birth to a son, who they named Yishmael (Yish-mah-el). Years later, God finally intervened with some off-the-charts fertility magic. Sarah got prego at age 90; Abe was 99. She gave birth to Yitzhak (Yitz-ch – you know the drill – ack), which is Isaac in English and means: Will Laugh…and they did.

Yishmael and Yitzhak grew up together, but Yish hooked up with some desert thugs. He started building altars and offering sacrifices for idol worship. The Trader Joe’s parking lot rumor is that he might’ve even been smoking the ancient equivalent of crack. Sarah stepped in and told Abraham to send Hagar and Yishmael away before he became a bad influence on Yitz. Abraham wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of sending away his second wife and first-born son, but God told him to go with Sarah’s plan.

Some commentators believe that Abraham was focused only on the immediate concern of what the neighbors would think if they sent Yishmael away, while Sarah was able to see the more far-reaching effects of Yishmael remaining in the home of the father of the Jewish people. The entire start-up nation’s future would’ve been in danger if Yitzhak got influenced by Yishmael’s bad ways. Sarah’s decision might sound harsh, but she had a determined ability to analyze the situation and prioritize the best response. It was both a momma-bear protecting-her-son decision and an executive-senior-management decision.

Team SKINNY thinks Sarah had it all. The Torah describes her as a strong and independent woman. Her name means princess, but she was also called Yiskah (Yis-kah – “k” this time, not a “ch”), which is Jessica in English and means seer because our fly-girl was also a prophetess who could see into the future. Take that Oracle!

If you’re Jonesing to get the low-down on the Jewish start-up nation’s other patriarchs and matriarchs, be patience, our hurried SKINNIES. A midrash says: “Fools attempt to learn the whole Torah all at once. When they fail, they give up altogether. The wise study a little every day.” Hold tight, we’ll rewind in slow-mo the Snapchats of the Torah’s other C-level execs in upcoming SKINNIES


 

TEAM SKINNY.