Chayei Sarah: Chapter 19

Eden drips upon the garden


In a complex discussion of an image in Ezekiel, "Behold one wheel upon the earth...," the rabbis display their profound and comprehensive knowledge of the scriptures. While replete with the arcane wisdom of gematria (numerology) and Kabbalah, and the profound mystical beauty of Solomon's great 'Song,' this debate has a surprisingly straightforward resolution - one that echoes previous sections of the Zohar in its emphasis on the importance of a pure heart and good deeds in this world for bringing mercy and peace in the next. Rabbi Yitzchak concludes with a simple exposition of the reason for references to Abraham's age. Abraham, literally, "came into the days;" his soul had reached its high-allotted place, where its great longevity was assured.


The Talmud reveals the difference between man and beast. A wild animal, according to Talmudic sages, instinctively knows to flee the raging fire. Man's nature, on the other hand, compels him to jump head first into the fiery blaze. Our natural tendency is to invite chaos and mayhem into our lives. We complicate and intellectualize life and its challenges, and we rationalize our responses to them. We refuse to heed the simple principles that create happiness - good deeds and persistent spiritual development. In reading this passage, we clear away the barriers to knowledge, and recognize that even the most complex mysteries arise from the same simple and eternal issues. Indeed, complexity itself is merely another excuse to avoid the quest to draw down Light. This excuse must be overcome like any other.