Parasha Chayei Sarah

Love Makes the World Go Round

What song comes to your mind when you hear the words, “Love Makes the World Go Round?” Perhaps it is this contemplation of the power of physical love by Rhythm and Blues singer Deon Jackson, recorded in 1965 You know Love Makes The World Go Round Love makes the see – saw go up and down; Love Makes trees grow tall Makes a boy and girl say they feel so fine now. Without Love Flowers wouldn’t bloom in spring Without spring the birdies just couldn’t sing Everybody needs love. . .   ….Or this bitter reflection on love by singer Ashley Simpson in 2004 — I just wanna talk to you And my broken heart just has no use And I, I guess promises are better Left unsaid, Every time you try to tell me You say the words that I’m the only But I’m the one who’s crawling on the ground When you say love makes the world go ’round   Then there’s the longing paean to love from the 1961 Broadway musical “Carnival” Love makes the world go ’round Love makes the world go ’round   Somebody soon will love you If no-one loves you now   High in some silent sky Love sings a silver song Making the earth whirl softly Love makes the world go ’round   There is this take on love from Madonna in a 1986 album – There’s hunger everywhere We’ve got to take a stand Reach out for someone’s hand Love makes the world go round It’s easy to forget If you don’t hear the sound Of pain and prejudice Love makes the world go round.   The idea that “love makes the world go round” is found in our Parasha this week. We are told that Abraham is “zaken, bah baYamim” – that Abraham is old, advanced in years.  Rabbi Sholom Noach Berezovsky,  z’l’, also known as the Slonimer Rebbe, asks the following question – why does the Torah add these words – “bah –bayamim” – “advanced in age”—to the statement “Abraham was old”. Words in the Torah are never superfluous. They are there to teach us something.  Now, the words “bah-bayamim” literally mean, “his days came”.  The Slonimer Rebbe teaches that Abraham’s days came to number so many because he never let a day pass without performing an act of “chesed”.  Chesed is an important word in Jewish life.  It means love, but a particular kind of love –generosity of spirit, kindness, compassion and open heartedness”.  Every day that Abraham lived, he did acts of Chesed. The Slonimer Rebbe takes this further. He says that it is up to each one of us to follow in Abraham’s footsteps and do acts of chesed every day.  Chesed is the most important mitzvah we can do.  How do we know this? Because, it says in the Psalms, “The world is built through ‘Chesed'”.  In other words, King David, who wrote the Psalms, was the first one to come up with the thought that Love Makes the World Go Round. How does Love Make the World Go Round?  Every day we human beings benefit from the kindness, the generosity, the compassion, the Chesed, of G-d.  Through the falling of the rain and the growing of the grasses, in our breathing of the air, we human beings are able to eat and drink and are sustained in this world.  Just as we benefit from G-d’s chesed, we must pass that chesed on to our fellow human beings.  We have to pay it forward. Thus, the entire world is sustained on a daily basis by G-d’s goodness flowing through us.  In fact, the Slonimer Rebbe teaches that if we fail to perform an act of chesed on a particular day, it is not even considered “a day” in our lives.  At the conclusion of our Parasha this week, the Torah tells us that Abraham dies with these words: “These are the days if the years of the life of Abraham, which he lived – a hundred and seventy five.”  Again, there are some extra words which beg interpretation. Why does the Torah add “which he lived”?  Because Abraham had lived his life fully – not one day was wasted.  Each day he performed acts of kindness, of generosity, of love, of caring, and each day was accounted a “day” in his life.  It is not how long one lives, it is how one lives, that determines the “days” of your life. Shabbat Shalom