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Promises and Prophecies

The king then took an oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.” — 1 Kings 1:29–30

The Torah portion for this week, Chayei Sarah, which means “the life of Sarah,” is from Genesis 23:1—25:18 and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 1:1–31.

Both this week’s Torah portion and the Haftorah selection deal with important times of transition. In the Torah we read about Sarah’s death, the search for a wife for Isaac, and then the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, who continue the mission begun by their parents.

In the Haftorah, we read about King David’s old age and the quest for a successor to his throne. One of his sons, Adonijah, appointed himself king even though Nathan the prophet had already determined that Solomon would rule. Nathan intervened and David promised that Solomon would be king.

The overall theme of transition is obviously shared by both stories. When we zoom in on a few key verses, we find another similarity between the two stories and a shared message as well.

In both stories, we find that during critical moments, someone makes a promise. When the continuation of Abraham’s legacy hinged on finding Isaac a suitable marriage partner, Abraham made his servant swear that he would find a wife for Isaac only from Abraham’s relatives. Likewise, when Solomon’s kingship was in jeopardy, David took an oath that he would make sure that Solomon would be king.

In both cases we ask the same question: Why was it necessary for people to make promises to ensure a reality that already had been promised by God? God had promised that Isaac would carry on Abraham’s legacy, and Nathan had already prophesied that Solomon would succeed David. Why didn’t Abraham and David relax in their old age and watch God take care of everything?

While Abraham and David trusted in God completely, they understood that they were not excused from doing their part. Even as they relied on God, they understood that they had to make an effort as well.

Friends, we live in a time in which we see many ancient prophecies coming true. Just as the prophets foretold, the Jewish people have returned to Israel, and the land of Israel has begun to flourish once again. Other prophecies are unfolding which involve wars against Israel and all kinds of world conflicts. But we know how the story ends. We know that God has promised the Messiah and peace in Israel.

But that doesn’t mean that we are free to sit it out and watch the scenes unfold on the nightly news. Like David and Abraham, we need to commit ourselves to doing everything we can to help God’s promises come true. We must promise to do our part. We stand at the precipice of another great transition in history. It our duty to play our role in every way that we can.

 

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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November 25, 2016
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Hodu —
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