This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister, Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-HaRav Gedalia Dov Ben Perel
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Nechama Hinda Bas Tzirel Leah-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19.-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
חַיֵּי שָׂרָה ● Chayei Sarah
“Life After Sarah”
For a Parshah named “Chayei Sarah,” it spends seemingly between little and no time at all discussing the “life of Sarah.” It is hard to accept that Chayei Sarah is named merely due to the fact that the Parsha apparently picks up immediately following Sarah Imeinu’s death. After all, the Torah didn’t have to go out of its way to elaborate at all on her death, as a handful of important deaths are glossed over. And if it was time for the Torah narrative to move on and discuss other matters, the Torah should not have ever humored the idea of a Sarah tribute before fleeing the topic in what looks like a Biblical “hit-and-run.”
Shout-out to Sarah
The fact that the Torah issues this shout-out before moving on suggests that perhaps, the Torah was not ready to completely move on from the “life of Sarah” after her passing. And what that suggests perhaps is that we should not either.
Business & Burial
What is ironic though is that the Torah hardly records a eulogy or obituary for Sarah Imeinu. Though we’re told that in fact Avraham eulogized her, the Torah only gave the time and space to record her age at her death and the business exchange for her final resting place in this world. The question is where in Chayei Sarah is the due honor and “last respects” to Sarah Imeinu? Why does the Torah go to such lengths to discuss her burial arrangements and give only a passing reference to the fact that Avraham eulogized her? Why does the Torah unceremoniously walk away from Sarah and simply move on to the next generation as though she is “old news”?
“She was a Great Woman”
Why doesn’t the Torah afford Sarah a eulogy? Perhaps the beginning to an answer might be to explain as follows: There are two ways to depict a person’s lasting importance. One can verbally attest to another’s impact and we can take that person’s word for it. That happens at funerals all the time. That is the basic format for the eulogy we might have expected to but did not find here in Chayei Sarah.
See for Yourself
The other way to communicate a person’s significance is in a way that perhaps only the Torah could, and that is to actually portray life in that person’s absence, after that person’s passing, and let the impact of that person’s legacy play out in “real-time” and thereby speak for itself. (For those who can appreciate the parable, think of: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”)
The Torah could have assured us that Sarah Imeinu was an incredible woman of tremendous virtue and valor. And we would’ve trusted the Torah at its word. But, instead, it depicts the “life of Sarah” by showing us life after Sarah, the impact she made after her physical lifetime. We’re first told that in her physical lifetime, she lived one hundred twenty seven years. But, again, that number would only quantify her physical lifetime. But, “life after Sarah” reveals an impact that is eternal and could therefore not possibly be quantified.
For Everything it’s Worth
Sarah’s importance to Avraham is demonstrated by those seemingly mundane efforts Avraham goes through to secure her “final resting place.” Indeed, from the plain read of Avraham’s exchange with Efron, he didn’t need to expend much effort at all. Efron ostensibly offered not to even charge him. But, perhaps like a Gadol in search of the most beautiful and expensive Esrog, Avraham wanted to buy Sarah’s burial plot for everything it was worth, because her honor was priceless. The incredible Kavod HaMeis perhaps says everything we need to know about the value of the person whom that Meis once was.
Sarah’s Glass Slippers
And yet, Sarah’s honor is manifest further beyond her funeral. Not only was she escorted from this world in a display of honor, but her legacy was secured and perpetuated in a most delicate task in the subsequent narrative. Indeed, the narrative of Eliezer’s search for Rivkah was not merely a quest to marry of Yitzchak as much as it was a quest to crown the next matriarch of monotheism and fill the incredible void and vacancy of Sarah Imeinu. This much is evidenced by the Torah plainly as the Chumash states that Rivkah entered the tent of Sarah [Bereishis 24:67]. In somewhat of a Cinderella story, despite having been brought up in a spiritually unflattering home, the exceptionally virtuous Rivkah’s feet fit perfectly into Sarah’s glass slippers so that she could carry on Sarah’s eternal legacy as the partner in the Abrahamic mission of spreading G-d’s word to the world.
In the end, though we can learn much about a person from the person’s lifetime, and maybe plenty more from the spoken word following the person’s death, what we can learn and feel in the person’s absence is perhaps the most immeasurable. The legacy and impact will speak for itself. And considering what Sarah Imeinu had left behind, she had a wonderful life.
May we all be Zocheh to create lasting legacies of virtue and positive eternal impact, and Hashem should reveal the fruits of our eternal legacies in the ultimate fashion with the Geulah and the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos Mevarchim Kisleiv!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg