Chayei Sarah: Chapter 8

"Your eyes did see my unformformed flesh"


Here we learn how the three prayers recited by a traveler can be embodied in one blessing. Then Rabbi Yehuda teaches that all of our deeds - good and bad - are recorded in a heavenly book. Knowing this reveals the importance of praying before embarking on any action. Rabbi Bo and Rabbi Yitzchak next debate the meaning of "unformformed flesh" and how this bestial state applies respectively to David and Adam. Unformformed flesh refers to the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, which is akin to an animal's primal desires. We learn why no one was left who bore a resemblance, even vaguely, to the original Adam. Before the sin, Adam was a being of untold spiritual and physical beauty, which man later attempted to use for negative purposes.

Rabbi Yehuda goes on to explain that the gifts of the Creator are given solely to support spiritual goals. If a man takes pride in his wealth or his children, instead of using them in divine service, he will ultimately be destroyed by them. So it is with the beauty of Adam, which the Creator gives in order that a man can become still more devout and connected to the Law. Those who fail to keep pure what the Creator has given, are soon driven from the world. We are told that each night is divided into three 'shifts,' when the soul of man leaves the 'unformformed flesh' of his body to be examined by the Holy One on three separate issues. If the soul fails this test, Rabbi Shimon is quoted by Rabbi Yehuda as saying, it is ejected from this divine realm. Great emphasis is placed on the fact that every single one of our actions is seen and recorded. Therefore, nothing should be done without due care for its consequences.


Man's nature is to regard wealth and luxury as prized attributes. All of us are inclined to place more value on physical beauty and external appearances than on the intangible inner qualities of life. Intellectually, we might accept the ideal that the only possessions worth having are those that cannot be bought and sold. But living a life that truly embodies this ideal is a formidable task, for the ego holds sway over all our thoughts and actions. The spiritual intent of this segment is to keep our consciousness focused on the Light of the Creator, even during sleep. The spiritual Light that emerges here makes us more cognizant of our actions and their repercussions, and helps us value and appreciate life's real treasures.