Chayei Sarah is a monumental Torah portion in the Book of Genesis (23:1-25:18) that establishes Hevron as one of our people’s holiest cities in the land of Israel and tells the story of the betrothal of Isaac and Rebekah. Thus, for the first time in Jewish history we witness the passing of the baton of history from one generation to the next.

We, the current generation, however, have yet to fulfill our Jewish destiny. Until there is peace between the tribes of Israel and between Israel and the Palestinians, we will not have fulfilled our raison d’etre as a people to be rod’fei shalom, pursuers of peace.

I offer a poetic midrash on Isaac’s and Rebekah’s encounter leading to their marriage. I love this story because their meeting is pure and sweet, and it suggests a paradigm of what is possible not only between individuals, but between the tribes that comprise the Jewish people today (e.g. Hareidi, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, liberal and right-wing Zionists, American, Israeli, Russian, British, European, Latin, etc.), and the peoples of the Middle East who know far too much polarization, suspicion, distrust, and hatred of each other.

A Weeping Isaac Alone in the Field

To be alone amidst shifting wheat
And rocks and sun
Beneath stirred-up clouds
And singing angel voices
Audible only by the wind.

‘I’ve secluded myself
As my father did
When he went out alone
Leaving all he knew
For a place he’d never been
That God would show him.

I can do nothing else myself
Because my father broke my heart
And crushed my soul
When he betrayed me
By stealing me away one early morning
Before my mother awoke
And nearly offered me up to his God.

When my mother learned what he had done,
Her soul passed from the world.

O how she loved me!
And filled me up
With laughter, love and tears.

Bereft now of them both,
I’m desolate in this world
And in this field.

O Compassionate One –
Do You hear me
From this arid place
Filled with snakes and beasts,
hatred and vengeance?

I sit here needing You.’

As if in response,
Suddenly from afar
There appears a caravan
Of people and camels,
Led by Eliezer, Abraham’s servant,
With a young girl.

Isaac, burdened by his grief
Does not look nor see.
He sits still
Lasuach basadeh
Meditating and weeping
Beneath the afternoon sun
And swirling clouds
And singing angels
Whom he cannot hear.

Rebekah asks:
‘Who is that man crying alone in the field?’
Eliezer says:
‘He is my master Isaac, Your intended one,
Whose seed you will carry
Into the future.’

Vatipol min hagamal
And she fell from her camel”
Shocked and afraid
Onto the hard ground

She veiled her face
And bowed her head
And together Rebekah and Isaac
Entered Sarah’s tent,
And she comforted him.