Dvar Torah Parshat Chaye Sarah 5773 2012

Referring to the years of Sarah’s life the Torah starts by saying: וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה, “Sarah’s life time was…” and proceeds to give the number of years she lived. The verse then ends by repeating the words: שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי שָׂרָה:, “…the years of Sarah’s life.” (Gen. 23,1)

Rashi recognizes that these last words are the repetition of the opening words of the verse and gives an explanation. He says the repetition is to tell us that all the years were equally good. This is very difficult to understand since we know that her life was not always a pleasant one.

To begin with, she was barren and could not conceive a child until she miraculously gave birth to Yitzchak when she was ninety years old. She had aggravation from her maidservant Hagar. She was depressed about the evil influence Ishmael had on Yitzchak. What did Rashi mean when he wrote that all her years were equally good?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein asked this question and gave a brilliant answer. He suggested that Rashi was not referring to goodness in her own life but rather to the goodness that she showed to others. No matter in what state of mind she was she never let it show in her treatment of others. In this sense Rashi means her life was always equal for goodness.

This is not an easy trait to emulate but is worth attempting. We should never let our mood reflect in our actions to others.

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