Rabbi Robinson’s Sermon November 10, 2023

Chayei Sarah For Reading 2023 Plaut p. 162 

Source Sheet by Yair Robinson 



Genesis 25:7-11 

(7) This was the total span of Abraham’s life: one hundred and seventy-five years. (8) And Abraham breathed his last, dying at a good ripe age, old and contented; and he was gathered to his kin. (9) His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, (10) the field that Abraham had bought from the Hittites; there Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife. (11) After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled near Beer-lahai-roi. 


בראשית כ״ה:ז׳-י״א 

(ז) וְאֵ֗לֶּה יְמֵ֛י שְׁנֵֽי־חַיֵּ֥י אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֲשֶׁר־חָ֑י מְאַ֥ת שָׁנָ֛ה וְשִׁבְעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְחָמֵ֥שׁ שָׁנִֽים׃ (ח) וַיִּגְוַ֨ע וַיָּ֧מׇת אַבְרָהָ֛ם בְּשֵׂיבָ֥ה טוֹבָ֖ה זָקֵ֣ן וְשָׂבֵ֑עַ וַיֵּאָ֖סֶף אֶל־עַמָּֽיו׃ (ט) וַיִּקְבְּר֨וּ אֹת֜וֹ יִצְחָ֤ק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל֙ בָּנָ֔יו אֶל־מְעָרַ֖ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֑ה אֶל־שְׂדֵ֞ה עֶפְרֹ֤ן בֶּן־צֹ֙חַר֙ הַֽחִתִּ֔י אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י מַמְרֵֽא׃ (י) הַשָּׂדֶ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־קָנָ֥ה אַבְרָהָ֖ם מֵאֵ֣ת בְּנֵי־חֵ֑ת שָׁ֛מָּה קֻבַּ֥ר אַבְרָהָ֖ם וְשָׂרָ֥ה אִשְׁתּֽוֹ׃ (יא) וַיְהִ֗י אַחֲרֵי֙ מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֔ם וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־יִצְחָ֣ק בְּנ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יִצְחָ֔ק עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי׃ {פ} 



Ibn Ezra on Genesis 25:8:3 

AND WAS GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE. Some say that this refers to the soul of life which, even while functioning in the body, is a separate entity. When it separates from the body it returns to its source. Others say that and was gathered to his people is a mere idiom. One who follows in the footsteps of his ancestors is said, as it were, to be joining them. But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace (Gen. 15:15) is similar. 


אבן עזרא על בראשית כ״ה:ח׳:ג׳ 

ויאסף אל עמיו. יש אומרים כי על כבוד הנפש אמר כי בהיותו מתעסק עם הגוף הוא כחלק נפרד. ובהפרד מהגוף יאסף הכבוד אל עמיו ויש אומרים כי זה משפט הלשון והטעם על לכתו בדרך אבותיו כאלו יתחבר אליהם וכן אתה תבא אל אבותיך בשלום: 



Sforno on Genesis 25:8:2 

ויאסף אל עמיו, he was attached to the bundle of souls who are part of the life after death, all of whom the righteous of the various generations who were like him in lifestyle, [as in those regions biological relationships are irrelevant, and the term “his people” is applied to other common denominators than on earth. Ed.] The reason why the Torah employs the term עמיו his peoples” in the plural is that there are all kinds of different spiritual levels among the righteous souls, not all attained the same level of righteousness while on earth although all of them share the experience of enjoying eternal life. (compare statements in Baba Batra 75 on that subject.) 


ספורנו על בראשית כ״ה:ח׳:ב׳ 

ויאסף אל עמיו. נאסף אל צרור החיים לחיי העולם עם צדיקי הדורות שהם עמיו ודומים אליו ואמרו עמיו בלשון רבים כי אמנם רב ההבדל בין הצדיקים במעלה עם היותם כולם זוכים לחיי עולם כאמרם ז”ל (שבת פרק שואל) וכל אחד נכוה מחופתו של חבירו: חסלת פרשת חיי שרה 


  • Beautiful image that we see repeated of being ‘gathered unto his people’ or in this case ‘peoples’  
  • Usually this is a metaphor for dying and being buried, as Ibn Ezra points out, it’s a poetic idiom 
  • Sforno, however, makes another observation, that his people are all the righteous who have passed on, and that he is gathered with them, numbered among them, recognizing that there are different levels of righteousness.  
  • Also hearkens back to our introduction of Abraham, how he is described as having gone to Canaan with ‘all the souls that he had made’, an idea repeated in Torah 
  • Abraham, we are reminded, didn’t just have Isaac and Ishmael, gathered in brotherly comfort for one another; he had other children as well with his wife Keturah, and had a profound impact on the people he encountered, both those who followed him to Canaan and the Canaanites themselves, who repeatedly called him the Elect of God.  
  • Today, Abraham is clamed by many peoples; his story isn’t just our story but their story as well. They too are counted among the Amav alluded to in our text.