We live in a fast moving world, with technology racing at a record pace. Despite this abundance of creativity, or perhaps because of it, some inventions make it, and some don't. There's Google Chrome, and there's Google Glass. Then there are those chosen few which are so successful that their existence is entrenched in our minds, to the point that we can't imagine a world without them (the smartphone was only invented in 2007!)

In 1941 General Mills tasked one of their employees, Lester Borchardt, to come up with a machine that could produce perfectly puffed oats, to be consumed with milk as a breakfast cereal. After nearly losing the funding for the project due to numerous failures, CheeriOats were born. The name was later changed to Cheerios when a competitor of General Mills decided that the word 'oats' was its own exclusive, copyrighted domain.

While Cheerios certainly ranks - right up there with the iPhone -among the inventions-turned-national-icons, its creators introduced another, less acknowledged creation, responsible for transforming yet another industry: Advertising. It was called 'cross marketing'. It is the promotion of one product (say, cereal) by using another (say, a movie character). Needless to say, this tactic was successful as well, and has been widely in use ever since.

In Judaism, the concept of cross marketing is quite prevalent. It's critical, in fact. As the Torah is a spiritual book, whose goal is to change a physical world, the need for 'cross advertising' - carrying the Torah's message over from the spiritual to the physical - is an oft-needed, necessary tool.

In this week's Torah portion, titled 'The Life of Sarah' (Chayei Sarah), we read of the person perhaps most responsible for introducing 'cross advertising' to Jewish life: Our mother, founder of the Jewish people, and wife of Abraham, Sarah.

Sarah is known in the Torah for introducing three unique Mitzvot:

1) The Mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles

2) The Mitzvah of Challah

3) The Mitzvah of caring for family

Candles, bread and family are not directly associated with what we might call 'religion' (though I've never felt that that word correctly describes what Judaism is). After all, faith and religion seem spiritual, the apparent pursuit of ethereal matters. Yet Sarah, despite being a great prophet and scholar, is specifically known for these three unique Mitzvot.

Sarah, right at the start, reminded us that Judaism is about people. It's about bringing light into our lives. Sharing special foods together. Celebrating with family. Judaism is a way of life, an enriching gift which brightens and gives meaning to each of us, in our own unique way. 

This actually went well beyond 'cross advertising'. Sarah reminded us that were really wasn't even a line to cross. Judaism is right at home lighting candles, eating Challah or with family time. For those are central to Judaism itself: A millennia old mission to make our world a peaceful, happy, productive, holy and kind place.

Scholarship is crucial in Jewish life, as is prayer, meditation and spiritual refinement. Sara, with her unique 'cross advertising' strategy, taught that these lofty ideals only fulfill their purpose if they are able to express themselves in concrete, real-life manifestations - such as Shabbat candles, Challah and family.

Her message resonated strongly ever since, and set the tone for generations of Jews over four millennia, down to that friendly yellow box of round oat puffs.

Rabbi Avrohom