Parshas Chayei Sarah Sweets and Treats
In this week’s Torah Portion, Parshas Chayei Sarah, Sarah dies at the age of 127. Avraham mourns for her and immediately purchases land from Ephron HaChiti for 400 silver coins. This land is the site of Ma’aras HaMachpelah, a cave where Adam and Chava are already buried, in Chevron. Sarah is buried there and it eventually will also be the burial cave for Avraham, Yitzchak and Rivka and Yaakov and Leah. It is one of the holiest places in the world. I was privileged to hear Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sachs, former Chief Rabbi of England, speak last week. He said that we can learn a lot from Avraham who in this week’s parsha mourns briefly (in fact only 10 words are spared in the text to describe his mourning) and immediately sets on the task to build the Jewish future. He sends his servant Eliezer to the land of his birth to find a wife for Yitzchak.
Eliezer arrives at the well in Charan and prays to Hashem for a sign to find the right wife for Yitzchak. When the girls come to the well, he will ask them for water to drink – he will know the right woman when she offers his camels a drink as well. Rivka, Avraham’s great-niece whose birth was recorded at the end of last week’s parsha, comes to the well and does exactly that. Eliezer gives her the gifts that he brought with him, jewelry for Rivka, and goes with her to her father, Besuel’s house. The next day, Rivka returns with Eliezer to Canaan. On their way, they see Yitzchak davening (praying) in the field in the afternoon. This is the first mention in the Torah of Tefilas Mincha (the afternoon prayer). Yitzchak brings Rivka to the tent of his mother Sarah, where she assumes her role as the next Matriarch of the Jewish people. Rashi tells us that when Rivka enters the tent, the miracles of Sarah’s tent return – a candle burning for seven days, the dough of her challah rising miraculously, and a cloud attached to the tent (a sign of Divine presence). Yitzchak and Rivka get married and Yitzchak is comforted for the loss of his mother.
The parsha concludes by telling us that Avraham takes a new wife, Keturah (another name for Hagar), and they have six more sons. Before his death, Avraham gives gifts to these sons and sends them away, designating Yitzchak as his only heir. Avraham dies at the age of 175 and is buried beside Sarah in Maaras HaMachpelah by his two eldest sons, Yitzchak and Yishmael.
There is so much symbolism in this week’s parsha! The candy coins symbolize the purchase of Maaras HaMachpela, the first land purchase by a Jew in Israel. If you can find silver coins in your store (maybe they are already stocking for Chanukah!), that is even better. The blue jelly beans symbolize the water that Rivka offers Eliezer and his camels, proving her worthy to marry Yitzchak. The candy rings and bracelets symbolize the gifts that Eliezer gives Rivka (for a healthier alternative, “bracelets” can be cut using colorful peppers). To symbolize the three miracles that returned to Sarah’s tent when Rivka enters, you can use marshmallows (for the cloud and for the dough rising) and you can make candles by inserting a toothpick into a chocolate nonpareil, then sliding a marshmallow over the toothpick, topping it off with a red jelly bean. You could also use marzipan challahs or braid licorice ropes to look like challahs. [See photo above] Candy hearts could be served this week to symbolize the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivka. Finally, animal crackers could be used to recognize the role the camels play in this week’s parsha.
What other ideas do you have? Share them with us in the comments!