The book of Melachim begins with the story of the old King David. An image that shows a king who can no longer rule his kingdom, nor his own body: a young woman is brought to keep him warm when he cannot do so by himself. Meanwhile, his son Adoniah boasts of being the successor to the throne, although David had not passed away yet. In this context, Adoniah prepares a great banquet inviting all his followers and expressly leaves out his brother Shlomo and, among others, Nathan, the prophet—both very close to the old monarch.
Nathan approaches Shlomo’s mother, Batsheva and makes her notice Adoniah’s rudeness, recalling the pledge that David made to her: that Shlomo would be chosen to inherit the throne even though it did not correspond to him in the succession line.
Batsheva finally manages to twist fate by reminding David of his promise; he recognizes and proclaims Shlomo as Melech Israel, King of Israel after him.
So far, the Haftarah. Let’s remember that this is a portion of the book of Neviyim, the Prophets, that is chosen to be read after the Torah, the former usually being related to the latter. The custom of reading the Neviyim section initiated when a ban on studying Torah was imposed by conquerors.
One of the possible links of this Haftarah with Chayei-Sarah, this week’s parashah, could be the existence in the story of family and political manipulations at the same time that it is the female authority that twists destiny within a supposedly patriarchal home, in the case of Sarah, and in a society where the woman lacked prominence, in the case of Batsheva.
Chayei-Sarah takes us back to the “lives” that Sarah had, in which she fought for her offspring to remain unharmed in his inheritance rights, in the face of the danger posed by the presence of Ishmael and his mother Hagar, who had given birth to Abraham’s first son at Sarah’s request, since she herself had not been able to do it.
On the other hand, had Batsheva not intervened so that Shlomo could succeed David in the throne, the history of our people would have been different and the royal lineage that would follow the great King David would have been another.
In a supposedly patriarchal society, later on managed by the sword and physical power, it is the women of the family who decide to impose their influence to fight for what they believe is right.
The midrash that interprets the title “Chayei-Sarah”, Sara’s lives, as the different stages that make up a person’s life is well known. It does not have to do with how many stages we live, but how consistent we are with our values and our objectives in each of them. How, at the end of our days, as in the case of Sarah, we will be able to look back and see that our life trajectory led us on a good path to fulfill the highest achievements that we have set out to.
When we recite the Amidah again today and we include the “Imaot”, our matriarchs, in the first blessing, we can do it with even greater conviction, since THEY changed the path of our people, as much or more than our patriarchs. A special consideration should be given to the beautiful Batsheva (in spite of her not having been included in the same blessing), thanks to whom Shlomo became king and starred in one of the most fruitful periods in the history of Am Israel, the People of Israel.
Rabbi Gustavo Geier