Monday, July 2, 2007

Table Talk -- Pinchas 5767

As any Harry Potter fan will tell you (as we eagerly await the publishing of the seventh and final book), Voldemort’s ultimate goal, other than being evil, is to achieve immortality. But Horcruxes and soul-splitting, unfortunately, seem to have some painful and negative side-effects. They seem to transform you into an evil, snake-like, murderous tyrant. Could there be another way?

According to this week’s parshah, there is a much better way to achieve eternal life.

During the listing of the counting of the families of the Jewish people, the Torah inserts an interesting fact: ושם בת אשר שרח – “and the name of the daughter of Asher is Serach.” (26:46) Who is Serach, and why name her if she doesn’t add to the counting of the nation?

Rashi explains that her uniqueness lays in the fact that she’s still alive. Serach is, in fact, the daughter of Asher, who traveled with Ya’akov and his family down to Egypt hundreds of years before. The Midrash also identifies her as the “wise woman” who appears in the book of Samuel during the times of King David, hundreds of years later. On this verse, Yonatan ben Uziel in his Aramaic translation adds that “Serach went up to the Garden of Eden alive.” Serach somehow achieved immortality. Like Eliyahu the prophet, she never died. How did she do it? What was her secret?

Yonatan ben Uziel explains that she merited eternal life, “because she told Ya’akov that Yosef was alive.” She was the messenger. She gave her grandfather the good news about his beloved son. And for that, she lived forever.

Sure beats soul-splitting.