The 2 Ways to Live a Good Life: Parashat Chayei Sarah

In Lech Lecha, Avraham is given the most difficult trials of his lifetime, amasses his enormous fortune; safely travelling far and wide with his beautiful wife, Sarah, and lives a very eventful, challenging, and rewarding life. That is, until the Akeida. 

Parshat Chayei Sarah immediately follows Parshat Lech Lecha and creates a stark contrast in not only pacing, but the story-telling puts these two parshot at extreme opposition with one another. It feels almost contradictory to what’s happened.

The Akeida is not only Avraham’s greatest test, but it is also the trial that changes the course of his story. The fallout between him and Yitzchak is irreparable and the two are never together again. Not only does it ruin his relationship with his favourite son, but the shock of the news kills even his wife.

Following through with G-d’s command had serious repercussions for Avraham. If he had known this, would he have still been so eager?

After the climax of the Akeida and Sarah’s death (ironically called, “The Life of Sarah”), Avraham’s life totally changes when Yitzchak leaves after they come down the mountain. After Sarah is buried in the Cave of Machpeila, the father and son part ways forever and Avraham is left to settle down with a new wife and start another family: a new phase of his life that fulfills the rest of G-d’s blessing to Avraham, but only after securing a bride for Yitzchak. Despite the fact his son won’t talk to him anymore, Avraham still insists on ensuring his son is cared for.

This is when we go from learning about the an unimaginable, incomparable, one-time sacrifice that ruins an entire family of Patriarchs, to focusing on the seemingly mundane life-cycle events of Jewish burial and matrimony.

In many ways, these parshot could not be more different. In another way, it is commentating on these events accurately. Despite the drama of it all, there couldn’t have been a more solemn time in Avraham’s life than mourning the loss of his most beloved wife and son, and meets the end of his old life all at the same time; both losses being a direct result of his own actions. Perhaps it’s fitting that these seem almost like two separate authors.

I can’t help but wonder what Yitzchak was thinking after coming down the mountain. Perhaps he left his father not only because of the trauma of the Akeida and losing his mother, but he wouldn’t take part in “Avraham’s Adventures” any longer. I didn’t even like being dragged to the grocery store by my parents, never mind a three-day journey to a mountaintop to be used as a sacrifice.

Maybe Yitzchak leaves his father to start his own spiritual journey, independent of Avraham’s legacy. Yitzchak chooses to serve G-d in his own way; in a tranquil field, awaiting the love of his life.

It also feels like a bit of a sick joke that Avraham is promised generations of righteous descendants, but G-d never shared that it would not be with Sarah; who was only given one son. But it also shows Avraham is willing to accept the repercussions of his actions and continue to do his best to follow G-d’s path for him. Avraham decides the end of his own story by choosing creation (and procreation) over self-destruction. Even if the end of his story is plain and uneventful, he chose it.

There is more than one way to choose to do good. We don’t need to live the most exciting lives at every moment. Everything we do doesn’t need to consciously contribute to some grander scheme. We can not always be making miracles–there comes a time when we need to settle down and enjoy a peaceful existence and Yitzchak demonstrates living our lives with intention is enough. But we must also be like Avraham, always ready to answer our call-to-action.

Effective Tips On Studying For People Who Hate Studying

It’s a time unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. There’s a thick layer of additional anxiety plaguing the world and it will take years to peel it away.

On top of everything, we’re all still mostly stuck online.

There’s no socializing with your classmates or chatting by the water fountain at work. You’re losing the small moments of joy that used to get you through the days… I get it. The last thing you want to do right now is study. After 6 months of quarantine this a huge adjustment, but is there something that will make this transition easier?

There is a new normal we all have to get used to and it will not be easy.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

If I can help you out, I will! Because if I am good at anything, it’s the art of taking neat notes and studying. I’m sharing the most important study tips I learned as a college tutor. Upping your study-game might be all you need to feel like you’ve totally got the hang of going digital!

So what’s the one thing you need to start doing right now that is guaranteed to help you be a better learner this year? Start hand-writing your notes—yes, it’s that easy! 

Let’s start from square one with how to take the best notes! These are habits that will benefit your memory and planning skills… Who doesn’t need that?

Apply My 7 Best Tips To Improve Your Hand-Written Note-Taking During Your Online Lectures and Meetings:

Graphic by: Joey Dean
  1. Pick a note-pad or note-book to work from. I jot my first drafts down a square-ruled paper pad. The vertical ruler lines enforce consistent indents and spacing while I’m frantically scribbling along to al lecture or absent-mindedly taking footnotes while reading. 
  2. Write in all upper-case letters. Why? You will save so much room on your page (and paper) if you I write in all upper-case letters—at about half line-height hight. This is a standard in science and engineering that is still a beneficial habit since leaving school.
  3. Rewrite your notes in 3-5 different colours—on lined paper for clarity when reading it back over. If Dolores Umbridge taught us anything, it’s that writing it by hand multiple times will surely instil a lesson in your head. Although, she promoted a very ineffective way of taking notes…
  4. Using different coloured pens to break up different concepts on the same page will make studying from your notes a lot easier later because you can use colour as an element of organization. 
  5. In between writing your notes and typing them up is when you should do your reading, studying or researching. You’ll be able to connect what you’re researching in the real world with the knowledge you’re trying to retain. The real world connections will come much more intuitively after you’ve done the initial work; by thoroughly understanding your subject.
  6. Now is when you type up your notes. Make final edits as you go: fix punctuation as well as grammar and so forth. You need to cut down your notes as much as possible so you can remember it. You only need to keep the details that you don’t understand or remember.
  7. Focus on what you need right now. It’s easy to get hung up on the small details, but I promise you that you will not remember everything at once. In most cases, you only need this knowledge temporarily anyway. In 6 months you can revisit your old written notes and review what you skipped over the first time.

Here’s a some quick examples of my own hand-written notes that I took for the worksheet included at the end of this article:

Living in a world of glass screens, it gets more and more important to avoid distractions while studying. It may seem like a waste of time to write your notes on paper and especially when you’re now only working online, but repetition is how we memorize things! The action of you processing and writing the information on paper is reinforced later by going back and transcribing your writing to a digital format. You pick up so many more casual language errors this way, rather than if you were reading it from a screen already.

I love working this way because I organically edit my writing as I type it into my keyboard. I usually end up adding additional notes and context and look for things to simplify. Rewrite your ideas so they’re more clear. This is also where I like to flesh out my notes with more tid-bits I remember from lectures, conversations or readings and things the professor explained better only after-the-fact. I get back into the flow of what I was thinking while I was writing. 

If you’re ready to peel away your pandemic anxiety just enough to keep moving forward, memorize these tips. Use this worksheet I created while you to create a study-routine!

If you need some more motivation to study, I will also leave you with this worksheet—Questions To Ask Yourself When You’re Overwhelmed—and tell you to read this article about How You’re Using Your Day Planner Wrong and why you need one in the first place!

Until next time,

—J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.