"Isaac brought (Rivka) into his mother's Sarah tent and he married Rebecca. She became his wife, and he loved her. Isaac was consoled for the loss of his mother" (25:67). Rivka by carrying on in the path set by Sarah brings comfort not only to Yitzchak but to Abraham as well. It is not coincidental that the death of Sarah is recorded in the parsha "the life of Sarah" for our sages teach that the "righteous even in death are called living". Sarah may have physically died but her way of life would continue through her children and future descendants. The above quoted verse is the 67 th and last of the story detailing how it came to be that Rivka and Yitzchak would wed. Clearly choosing the right marriage partner is extremely important and the Torah thus spends more time on this story than in detailing the laws of Shabbat.
The opening verse of the "first Jewish wedding" story does seem a little out of place. The Torah tells us that "Abraham was old, well advanced in years and G-d had blessed Abraham with everything." (24:1). Sarah has just been buried so it seems rather inappropriate at this point to say that Abraham was blessed with everything.
Perhaps we can understand this in light of the Talmudic passage that demands that just as we must bless G-d on good tidings so too we must bless G-d when bad things befall us, a concept that is reflected in the blessing of G-d as the righteous judge when a close relative dies. Abraham despite the fact that he had just "come to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her" (23:2) still had much that he was thankful for. For those events that were distressful he realized that ultimately they too reflected the will of G-d. He had the wonderful ability to see life as a constant blessing.
When we think of the life experiences of each of the patriarchs it is Yaakov who we view as having had the most difficult of lives. His problems both with his brother and children literally drove him to an early grave (he lived to 147 whereas his father and grandfather lived to 180 and 175 respectively). However if we carefully examine the life of Abraham we will see that it was one fraught with much difficulty and many challenges. As a child he challenged the religious ways of his surroundings becoming an outcast who, according to the Midrash, was harassed constantly for his radical views. He was forced to leave his homeland and family and journey to an unknown land. Upon arriving he is greeted by famine and while seeking food in Egypt his wife is kidnapped and nearly raped. Returning to Israel he squabbles with his nephew Lot yet still risks his life in a war with the four kings. Throughout this he no progeny and when he finally has a son, from his wife's concubine he is told that "he will be a rebel. His hand will be against everyone" (16:12). Not exactly Nachas . In fact at the urging of his wife he is forced to send him away from home. When after many years Abraham and Sarah do have a child, Abraham is told to sacrifice him an event which the midrash claims caused the death of Sarah. Yet somehow Abraham is the paradigm of chesed throughout and always seems to expend his energies on tikkun olam, improving the world. Whether it is his "proclaiming the name of G-d", fighting (even if it means going to war) for justice for all, pleading with G-d to have mercy on the wicked, his constant practice of hachnasat orchim , or touring the land of Israel Abraham always saw the potential for good. There is no use in feeling sorry for ourselves when so much needs to be done.
"Abraham breathed his last and died at a good age, old and satisfied" (25:8). Abraham may have had a difficult life but one who met him would never know it. By focusing on the blessings that we do have and sharing them with others we will help ensure that we too will have a life of satisfaction and meaning. Shabbat Shalom!.