Parsha Chayei Sarah | חיי שרה | “Sarah’s life “
“And the years of the life of Sarah.” (Gen. 23:1); “And these are the days of the years of the life of Abraham that he lived.” (ibid. 25:87).
The Zohar learns out from this verse that Sarah signifies the body of a person, and Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Forefather) signifies to the soul of a person.
The fifth reading from the book of Genesis is named Chayei Sarah (חיי שרה). It means “Sarah lived,” because the narrative begins with the words “Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years” (Genesis 23:1). This portion of the Torah is filled with romance and sorrow. It tells the story of how Abraham mourned his wife after her passing, and how he procured a wife for his son Isaac. At the end of this portion, Abraham is laid to rest beside his beloved wife.
The parshah opens with LIFE — the LIFE of Sarah — even though it goes on to speak of her death, and later that of Abraham (Gen. 25:8). This is because it is the very limit that death puts upon life that makes every year of life and every day so precious.
“Teach us to count our days” (Psalms 90:12). What gives true value to each day is not the material pleasures enjoyed or the wealth amassed but the eternal goodness attained through the mitzvos one accomplishes each day, each minute.
In the words of Rabbi Nathan of Breslov in his Introduction to Chayey Moharan, the Life of Rabbi Nachman: “There are countless gradations in the life and vitality found in the world. Real life is the life of true wisdom, as it is written: ‘Wisdom gives life to those who possess it’ (Eccl. 712). And the essence of wisdom is to labor and endeavor to know and acknowledge G-d, who is the Life of life. The closer one comes to God, the more his life is genuine life.”
G-d of the Living:
The name of the Parsha is “the life of Sarah,” yet we immediately encounter the account of her death. There is an old Hebrew saying that states, “The righteous in death are considered alive.” Yeshua alluded to this (i.e., resurrection) when he spoke of G-d as being the “G-d of the living” – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Yeshua answered them, “The reason you go astray is that you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and of the power of Most High………………… haven’t you read what G-d said to you…I am the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitz’chak and the G-d of Ya‘akov’?
He is G-d not of the dead but of the living!” – Matthew 22:29-32
Genesis 23:1-25:18 ; Genesis 21 : 12
Genesis 17:15-16; Exodus 3:6
1 Kings 1:1-31 ; 1 Kings 18:36
Proverbs 31 : 11 – 15
Hebrews 11 : 11; I Peter 3: 5-7; Ephesians 5 : 22- 24
I Corinthians 11 : 7- 9 ; I Timothy 3: 2 ; Titus 2:4
Revelation 12 : 1 ; Matthew 22:29-33
Acts 3 : 13; Luke 20:38 ; Mark 12:27
Acts 7:32 ; Luke 20:37,38
And the life of Sarah was, Said Rabbi Chiya: this has already been explained. When Isaac was bound on the altar he was 37 years old. And because Isaac was bound [to be sacrificed] Sarah died, as it says: Abraham came to cry for Sarah and to mourn after her Where did he come from? He came from Mt. Moriah from binding [to sacrifice] Isaac.
And these 37 years, from the time that Isaac was born until the moment of his binding, these were surely years of life for Sarah; this is the numerical value of the first verse of the parsha,in gematria, 37 years, as we have said, from Isaacâs birth until his binding.
Abraham and Sarah are the first husband-wife team to have made an impact for G-d. Just as Adam and Even caused division by “separating” the fruit from the tree, Abraham and Sarah brought unity – as prophets of G-d – uniting above and below through G-d’s Torah. G-d is thus referred to in Gen 24:3 as, “G-d of heaven and G-d of the earth” (i.e., from man’s perspective due to the actions of Abraham and Sarah.)
King Solomon composed “Aishes Chayil” (Woman of Valor – from Proverbs 31), which is sung in Jewish homes each Friday nights, with Sarah in mind. What is the real meaning of “a woman of valor?” As one Torah teacher states:
This is what makes a true Aishes Chayil, of whom Shlomo HaMelech wrote. She possesses the ability, above all else, to transform her non-spiritual reality into one of tremendous spirituality, even when all the surrounding elements are working against her. The above is especially true of the wife’s effect on her husband. Through her actions (grounded in Torah) a woman can increase her husband’s spiritual insight/ability.
“וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה, מֵאָה שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים–שְׁנֵי, חַיֵּי שָׂרָה.”
“Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.” The Zohar explains that even though the Torah mentions the death of other women, Sarah’s death is mention in a unique way and the Torah portion was named after her. Chaye Sarah, “חַיֵּי שָׂרָה”, means ‘the lives of Sarah’.
The first verse of this week’s Torah portion is, “Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years; the years of Sarah’s life”.
“And Sarah’s life was…” All this life is above IN BINAH. A hundred year refers TO KETER Above. “Twenty year”, Is CHOCHMAH (the supernal “Father”) AND BINAH( the supernal “Mother”), Above. The seven years ARE THE SEVEN LOWER SFIROT Above. This is the secret of the first three and the lower seven sefirot of binah where Sarah Received life, which is MOCHIN. Rabbi Shimon said, Come and look at the secret of all this. Sarah’s life is connected to the Mochin [another term for Spiritual Light] and the secret of Ten Sfirot that are contained within the dimension of Binah(Understanding).
The Zohar associates the Tzaddik (Yesod) with the “Angel of the Lord,” from the book of Exodus
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 232a – While they were sitting midnight arrived, and R. Judah said to R. Jose: ‘Now the north wind awakes and the night is divided, and now is the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, longs for the voice of the righteous in this world, the voice of those who study the Torah. Now God is listening to us in this place; therefore let us not cease from discoursing on the Torah.’ He then commenced: THE ANGEL WHO DELIVERED ME FROM ALL EVIL . This is the same as the one mentioned in the verse: “Behold I send an angel before thee, etc.” (Ex. XXIII, 20), who, as we have laid down, is the deliverer of the world, the protector of mankind, and the one who procures blessings for all the world, he himself receiving them first. This angel is sometimes male, sometimes female. When he procures blessings for the world, he is male, resembling the male who provides blessings for the female. But when he comes to bring chastisement on the world he is called female, being, as it were, pregnant with the judgement. Similarly, in the words, “the flame of the sword which turned every way” (Gen III, 24), there is a reference to the angels who are God’s messengers, and who turn themselves into different shapes, being sometimes female and sometimes male, sometimes messengers of judgement and sometimes of mercy. In the same way, this angel can take all colors like the rainbow, and treats the world correspondingly.
(Malkut)-Kingdom is identified as having primarily female characteristics.An example of a Tzaddik taking on “female” characteristics is found in New Testament.
Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
King David asked G-d to tell him how long he would live. He said, “O G-d, let me know my end; what is the measure of my days?” (Tehillim 39:5).
This teaches us that he who is small in this world will be great and honored in the Olam Habah. One who considers himself big will be small there. Therefore in the case of “one hundred” and “twenty” the Torah uses the singular. One thinks that these are large numbers – but they are actually small. “Seven” on the other hand, takes the plural. If one makes himself small in this world, considering himself little and avoiding pride, in the Future world, he will be great and important. (Zohar, Shelach).
This explains the verse, “The tzaddikim perish, and no man takes it to heart. Saintly men are taken away with no one understanding. Before the evil, the tzaddik is taken” (Yeshayahu 57:1) The phrase “Before the evil, the tzaddik is taken,” can be interpreted in two ways. First, it can mean that the tzaddik is taken because of the evil, to atone for the sin of the generation, thus annulling the evil decree. G-d takes away the tzaddik so that he will not suffer from the evil decree that is about to come.
The conclusion of Sarah’s life (the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah), the climax of her achievements, is her impact on Ishmael: Sarah’s gevurah approach causes that ‘on the face of all his brethren he fell.’ And from Ishmael’s fall at the end of days will sprout Moshiach, who stems from the ‘children of Isaac.’
Today it is hard to see the holiness in physicality, but we are still waiting for the days when all eyes will see the glory of G-d filling the whole universe.