Chayei Sarah – taking time to notice

As with most of the Parshiot (weekly readings ) in the first book of the Torah, Chayei Sarah is full of great stories, and at least two are about cherishing the natural world. I was tempted to focus on the story of the camels, and how Abraham’s servant knew that Rebeccah would be a worthy wife for Isaac because she went to great effort to fetch water for all ten camels. However I was also intrigued by a sentence towards the end which provides the rationale for the afternoon prayer service (Minchah) “Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening…”. (Gen. 24:63). We have three daily prayer services – Shacharit (morning), Minchah (afternoon) and Maariv (evening).  Praying in the morning comes naturally as gratitude for waking and starting a new day, and payer in the evening comes naturally as preparation for the night. The desire to pray in the afternoon may be harder to understand. The sentence above, though, states that Isaac meditated in the field in late afternoon and we can understand from this that Isaac spent time on a daily basis contemplating the wonders and beauty of nature. The awe that he derived from this exercise drove him to spend time in contemplation and prayer, and a time when he was neither grateful for waking safely in the morning or fearful about what the night would bring. Simply awestruck a the wonders of nature.

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