This week, our Parshat HaShevua; Parshat Chayei Sarah is being co-sponsored by Noach and Miriam Magedman and family in honor of the upcoming wedding of Yael Shira Gherman to David Lipson, and Meir and Gila Arnold and family Lilui Nishmas for Me’ir’s Grandfather R’ Mordechai ben Yosef Avraham z”l. Both families are from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Magedman and Arnold families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued your kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
As in previous vorts on Parshat Sarah, this author continues discussing our Parsha’s opening posuk which gives Sarah Imeinu’s age upon her death:
“Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years: the years of Sarah’s life.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk 1)
Why was it necessary to break the 127 years into 3 sections rather than to merely say, as rendered in translation in The Living Torah Chumash by R’ Aryeh Kaplan z”l (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk 1) :
“Sarah had lived to be 127 years old. These were the years of Sarah’s life.”
Rabbi Artscroll, in the large blue Stone Edition Chumash, page 107, cites Rashi’s explanation of this 1st posuk:
Rashi explains that the repetition of years divides Sarah’s life into three periods, each with its own uniqueness [and each period shared the particular characteristics of its neighbor]. At a hundred, she was as sinless as a twenty-year-old, for until the age of twenty, a person does not suffer Heavenly punishment. And at twenty, she still had the wholesome beauty of a seven year old, who does not use cosmetics and whose beauty is natural (Chizkuni).
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, provides further commentary on Rashi’s division of Sarah Imeinu’s life into three periods in the “New Hirsch Chumash” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 23, posuk1, page 500):
These three figures represent the entire course of human life: childhood, young adulthood and complete old age. A life of spiritual and moral perfection cannot be summed up better than by saying that the person was old in his old age, mature in his prime, and a child in his childhood…. He retains all of the spiritual and moral attainments of his past and takes them with him into the future.
Thus, Sarah took the beauty of childhood into young adulthood, and she retained the innocence of a woman of twenty all the days of her life.
All of these years together are called Chayei Sarah; she lived in all of them. All of the 127 years of her life were chayim, vital and joyful life, good and meaningful life, and there was not a moment of it she would have preferred not to have lived.
….Life is not measured by the span of time that is given us in this world: [Brachot 18a], they go to ongoing development that continues forever.
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (page 52) provides more insight into the character of Sarah Imeinu:
…The Torah ideal is to be aware that the purpose of… [one’s] life is to perfect… [one’s] character and every life situation is an opportunity for growth. Sarah mastered this level of consciousness. Therefore at the end of her life, which was constantly devoted to growth, it could be said about her that all her years were good.
Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’il Mod U’lamed (pages 34-35) writes of Sarah Imeinu:
…Sarah had lived a full and rewarding life. She had accomplished much during her stay on earth and her good deeds were innumerable. She had aided Avraham with his devotion to Chesed by opening her house to as many guests as possible and by taking care of all their needs. Because of her outstanding righteousness, Hashem bestowed upon her special personal qualities. In fact, we are told that in terms of prophesy she was even greater than her husband Avraham.
Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Parsha Chayei Sarah (pages 71-78) cites Rabbi Moshe Wolfson (Wellsprings of Faith, page 51-52) who cites the Zohar regarding Yerushalayim and Chevron in seeming analogy to Sarah Imeinu and Avraham Avinu:
The Zohar explains that… the Ma’arot HaMachpela is a copy of Yerushalayim. Both Yerushalayim and Chevron have the property of being an intermediary between the people and Hashem. Yerushalayim is a place that connects Heaven and earth; it connects this physical world with the spiritual world. Ma’arot HaMachpela in Chevron is also a point of connection. It is the entrance to Gan Eden and the point souls pass through on their way to the next world.
While Chevron and Yerushalayim are both pathways of connection, they manifest themselves in different ways.
In Yerushalayim there is an open and public revelation of Hashem. It is located on a mountain high up for all to see…. On the other hand, in Chevron Hashem is concealed. He is still very much in all His Glory but He is not standing atop a mountain. He is in a cave within a cave, and one must look very closely in order to see the connection.
So, to return to a point made by this author in a vort on Parshat Breish’t:
The sum total of the contrast mentioned above is that while Hashem relates to, and with each of us and with all of His Creations, we are still finite, whereas Torah is infinite. We hope and pray for ultimate Ge’ula Shlaima, where our lives are no longer finite. But in our current finite state, what we do here on earth is critical, for when we are no longer here, our Mitzvot, our kindnesses that we do, because they are needed, whether for family or for the Kehal — they live on, attached to the collective memory of the do’er by his/her friends, family, the Kehal and beyond.
So just as Avraham Avinu was high profile and “bigger than life” doing kiruv and chessed — the Gadol HaDor of his generations, Sarah was his support, behind the scenes — concealed, yet the inspiration and support behind his efforts. One could say that Sarah Imeinu was the wind beneath Avraham Avinu’s proverbial wings, as was the title to that classic song “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler.
Thus it would seem that Sarah Imeinu’s attributes inspired the efforts and costs expended by Avraham Avinu to acquire the Ma’arot HaMachpela — later the burial place of Avraham Aveinu himself, as well as Yitzchak Avinu and Rivka Imeinu and Yaakov and Leah.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two Chayalim from the Gaza war of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.