Chaye Sara – 5778

Sedrah Reflections By Kenny Brand

‘And the lifetime of Sarah was 127 years, the years of the lifetime of Sarah’ (Bereishit 23:1).

From an initial consideration, we might conclude that the second half of this verse is superfluous since it appears to restate the first half.

The Chasam Sofer (d. 1839) explains that often our Sages identify an era by reference to the outstanding individuals who lived in it, eg ‘the generation of R’ Shimon bar Yochai’. The Torah is informing us here that Sarah’s name was synonymous with the times in which she lived because she was such an influential person.

Another explanation is given by R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky (d.1986), based on Rashi. Sarah’s death is recorded immediately after the Akeidah (Binding of Isaac) since one led to the other. When she heard how nearly her son had been sacrificed on Mount Moriah, she died of shock. To undermine Abraham’s status, non-believers declared that if he had not agreed to sacrifice his son, Sarah would have still been alive.

The Torah testifies that this is incorrect. In stating ‘the years of the lifetime of Sarah’, it teaches that she lived to the end of her allotted span. The report of her son’s near death had only provided the means of her death; she would have died then in another way.

The Zohar points out that the word ‘vayih’yu’ has the numerical value of 37 – Isaac’s age when Sarah died, further linking the Akeidah to Sarah’s death.

In his Sefer V’Higadeta, Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky (d. 2014) says that Sarah’s soul left her when she heard about the Akeidah – not as from fright, but because she had fulfilled her life’s mission in that Isaac had withstood the challenge he faced.

May HaShem guide us to enable us to fulfil our mission in life in good health.