Parshat Chayei Sarah: The Poetry of Life

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20 Nov 2008
Arts & Media

What is it about Life

That gets people breathing



Here begins a sentence –

A life sentence:


One’s mouth or nostrils may open and

Hardly ever close, blowing air in and

Blowing air out (cold air, hot air, desp-air),

Without ever actually breathing, breathing

Life into oneself, breathing Life into one’s



Another’s mouth may remain closed,

Blowing nothing, not even a chance;

Neither does this one wait to exhale

Or inhale the toxins of a false universe;

This one is not holding the breath nor

Dropping the proverbial bomb – this

One merely breathes, breathes life, life

Into oneself, life into others, life into

The world


So tell me who is more alive?


One whose body does everything right

But whose soul is stagnant;

Or one whose soul pulsates in life

But whose body lies dormant?


It seems:


Not all with a beating heart

Are of the living

And not all who rest in peace

Are of the deceased


It seems:


It takes more than blood flow

For a man to be passionate

Just as it takes less than dirt

For a man to be buried


So what, pray tell, is Life

And what does it mean to be alive?


It was

The life

Of Sarah



As human beings of the bodily form

Tend to measure life in bodily terms


The person breathes, sleeps, wakes, eats, moves,

Goes through the motions and emotions –

The person’s alive!


But we

As human beings of the soul essentiality

Also know life is more than motion or emotion

Life is passion, life is vibrancy, life is contagious –

Life is connecting to the Source of Life.


The Poetry of Life, like all poetry, at times gets subtle

(Perhaps a euphemism for vague);

Thus a Life barometer:


If one is alive, breathing with a purpose and passion,

Burning with a soul desire and kindled spirit but the

World around, the people around are as dead as an

Unplugged mike, as cold and heartless as an ice cube,

Then such a life, such a purpose, passion, is a dishonest

Façade, deader even than that unplugged microphone


You see Life, by living definition, makes everything

Around it come alive; Life, by living association, in-

Spires everything in its vicinity to breathe soul, all

In its neighborhood to

Rise up for Life

Size up for Life

Skies up and get down

For Life


This is the Life of Sarah:

Thousands of years since

She has last parted her

Lips, but every second

She breathes, breathes

Life into her children,

Imparts purpose and

Passion within each

And every one of us.


Sarah is connected to the

Source of all Life and that

Never fades, only grows:

Chayei Sarah, the Life of

Sarah, is as alive today

As it was all those years

Ago (perhaps more so, for

Living things never stop



It is as simple as life and death.


Here’s the bottom- (not end- or tag-) line:


The lines of Torah are lines of Life,


One has merely to read and study the words, the lines

Of Torah, of Life, for the living to become alive and

The alive to throb with passion and spirit


This is the life of our mother; and this is the life of we,

Her children alive and well!

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.