Parashat Hayye Sara
Dedicated In Honor of my wife Sarah Gammal
Parashat Hayye Sara
Parashat Chaya Sarah starts off with the passuk....."Vaheyu Chaye Sarah Meah Shanah Veesriym Shanah Vesheva Shaniym; Shenei Chaya Sarah". Which means, "Sarah's lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years and seven years; the years of Sarah's life".
Don’t Regret Doing the Mitzva
Our Rabbis teach us that there was a connection between Sara’s death and akedat Yitzhak. Her death, they explain, was actually the result of the akeda. Rashi quotes Chazal, that the Satan described the akeda to Sara shockingly. Normally if you have to break unpleasant news to a family member, you would start off by saying, “Your son is ok, but he was involved in a car accident and b”h he’s doing fine.” A person has to learn how to talk when breaking difficult news to someone.
But the Satan said “Avraham sacrificed your son Yitzhak...but he didn’t kill him.” From these shocking words Sara’s neshama left her, but she knew and was satisfied that her son had survived.
Why did the Satan have to shock Sara? Chazal answer that the Satan was trying to make Avraham regret what he did, so that he would lose the mitzva. As we say in hashkivenu in Arbit, “vehaser Satan melifanenu u’meacharenu— Remove the Satan from before and after us.” Please Hashem don’t let the Satan discourage us from doing mitzvot before we do them, or cause us to regret doing them afterwards.
Imagine if you see a poor person that you want to help, but the Satan grabs you and discourages you from helping that person. Then, after you conquer the yetzer hara and help the man, the Satan comes to you and says, “Why did you give him so much money?” He tries to make you regret the mitzva that you just did, so that you will lose credit for it. This is exactly what the Satan was trying to accomplish with Avraham.
But we learn that Sara passed her test, because Chazal taught us that her last breath came with the proud knowledge that she had succeeded in raising a son who was willing to give up his life in the service of Hashem.
This week’s parasha, Hayye Sara, begins with the passuk, “vaheyu hayye sara me’ah shana v’esriym shana v’sheva shaniym; sheneh hayye sara — Sara’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years; the years of Sara’s life.” We learn from the repetition of the words hayye sara that Sara lived out her full lifetime, and the Satan did not take away any of the years of her life. This was when she was supposed to die.
Hashem Makes Shiduchim
The Torah then goes on for 66 pesukiym to elaborate on how Avraham sent Eliezer to find a wife for his son Yitzchok. Avraham sent Eliezer his trusted Right hand man, to his family in Charan to the home of Bethuel where he will meet Rivkah, the sister of Lavan by the well. The Torah wanted to show us the hand of Hashem and how Hashem is the ultimate matchmaker as we see the story unfold where Eliezer and Rivkah happen to meet by the well where Rivkah displays her midot by giving Eliezer and the camels to drink. From studying this story we can see clearly the hand of Hashem when we think back of how we met our spouses or the way our childrens shiduchim came about. Ask Rabbi Ozeirey or any of the other matchmakers in our community and they will attest to this fact.
Older singles wonder whether they’ll ever get married. Some haven’t had a date in months, and some not in years. Even when there are suggestions, they don’t sound promising. Is there a time when they should just say, “Forget it. It’s been so long. It’s never going to happen.”?
The Seforno comments on the Pasuk describing how Yosef was rushed out of prison after twelve long years, “כדרך כל תשועת ה' הנעשית כמו רגע”-This was just another example of the way Hashem always brings His salvations-in an instant, with no prior notice.
It doesn’t matter if a person didn’t go on a date for six months or six years. When Hashem decides that the time for salvation has arrived, it will come so fast, without any notice. We must always hope for that moment to arrive.
Rabbi David Ashear published an amazing story in his Daily Emunah book that he heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein which took place several years ago in London. There was a young lady from a very respected and well-to-do family there. She had everything going for her: Beautiful Midot, Yiraat Shamayim etc. Everyone thought she would get married very quickly. She went out with the finest boys who went to the greatest Yeshivot. But nothing clicked.
The years passed and she was already twenty eight years old. She had been dating for almost ten years, without success. Her parents had almost given up; the Shadchanim practically stopped dealing with her. Even when a date was set up, nobody really had any expectations that it would work out. All of her friends were married. Some had three and four children but she was still all alone.
Her parents, kept a lot of hired help, including various gentile day workers. One day, one of those workers approached the parents and asked, “Can I speak to you for a moment? Before I come to your house in the afternoon, I work cleaning the house of Mr. and Mrs. So and So. They are very religious Jews, like you, and they have a thirty year old son who has been trying for years to get married. They say he’s the best boy. According to what I see in both houses, I think he would be a great match for your daughter.”
The parents actually felt insulted. “Where have we gotten to?” they thought, “Our suggestions are now coming from our housekeeper. What does she know about this?” Of course, they politely thanked her and told her they would consider it.
They made a decision to look into that boy, and it turned out that he lived just a few blocks away from them, but they had never heard his name before. Everyone who knew him spoke so highly of him, so they decided that it can’t hurt to try. They met the boy for the first time, and he made a terrific impression. He was one of the best boys in his Yeshiva and possessed all the beautiful qualities they were looking for in a son-in-law. Not too long after they began dating, the couple became engaged.
At the engagement party, the father of the bride, took the microphone and started to cry. In a broken voice, he said, “My precious friends and family, you are not going to believe what took place here. For the last ten years, we have been searching the globe for a Chatan for our daughter. We spoke to Shadchanim, rabbis, friends and acquaintances. Practically everybody in town knew of our situation. We went through hundreds of suggestions, but nothing ever worked out. Now, just four minutes from our house, we have found the man we have been waiting for. He was suggested to us, not by a rabbi and not by a friend, but by a cleaning woman, who had just began working for us a few weeks earlier. We must learn from here that Hashem is in charge. He is the one who is going to send us our Shiduchim. We must stop spending weeks and months of our lives in aggravation, blaming ourselves and others that our children are not married. Instead, we should surrender to Hashem and say, “You are the only one with any say. When You know the right time has arrived, You will bring the salvation in a way that You see fit.” It can come in ways that we, literally, would never expect. Before the time was right, nothing anybody did could help us. Now, when the time did arrive, we experienced ‘ישועת ה' כהרף עין’-Hashem’s salvation in the blink of an eye.”
The Torah goes on to say: “veyavo Avraham lespod l’sara v’livkota — And Avraham came to eulogize Sara and to cry for her.” But here the Torah uses a small kaf in the word v’livkota, which means “to cry for her.” The reason for this is because Avraham first eulogized Sara’s good traits publically; and then later, he cried for his loss privately. Hacham Ovadia once said at the funeral of the wife of a very charitable man from our community that “Avraham didn’t cry so much because he was able to visualize Sara in Olam Haba and the glory that she was basking in.”
Later on, in perek 24 passuk 1, it says, “v’Avraham zaken ba bayamim, v’Hashem berach et Avraham bakol — Now Avraham was old, came along with his days, and Hashem had blessed Avraham with everything.” Rashi says that the numerical value of bakol, “with everything,” is 52, which is the same numerical value as the word ben(son). Rashi implies that once Avraham had his son Yitzhak and they both passed that final test of the akeda, he was content that he truly did have everything!
As we get on in years, we realize what’s most important in our lives is our children and the legacy they will bring us. So when Rashi says that Avraham’s son Yitzhak was everything, he’s saying that all that really matters to us as parents and grandparents is our children, and the future of our families who will carry on our lineage.
So what this passuk is saying is that Hashem’s blessings for us is to have children and grandchildren that will grow up to follow in the ways of the Torah and make us proud of them. To many people, having “Everything” means wealth, health and honor. But what’s really most important is seeing our lives and the children we produced become a part of our Jewish lineage.
When the great Rabbi Avigdor Miller passed away in 2001, his children found the following letter in his will:
My children and grandchildren, please don’t cry or mourn for me too much because I’m very thankful to Hashem for giving me a wonderful life. I had a wonderful wife and five beautiful children who all went in the way of the Torah. My two sons, both Rabbis, one a rosh yeshiva, and my three daughters all married to Rabbis. My grandchildren also all beneh Torah and following the path of Torah, as I have prayed for all my life. I was healthy all of my years and was able to learn for six years in Slabotka yeshiva. I am truly grateful for the wonderful life that Hashem gave me.
The passuk begins, “Avraham was old, came along with the days.” This seems somewhat redundant. Rabbi Twersky, a medical doctor, comments that many people in their older years tend to look back and express regret. If only they could turn back the clock and relive the days of their youth to avoid some of the mistakes they had made. They would never think back and say, “If only I had spent more time at the office.” Rather, they would say, “I should have spent more time with my family, building my relationships with my children instead.” Later on in life they realize how insignificant those extra hours at the office were, compared to the great value of spending precious time with the family.
The Torah is saying that there was not a single day that Avraham wasted or regretted — he had done “everything.” There is no greater beracha than looking back on our lives and having the satisfaction that we lived our lives to the fullest and wouldn’t want to go back and relive a single day.
May we all live each and every day to the fullest by spending quality time with our children and grandchildren and learning Torah with them every day. This way we will enter our later years content that our days were full and productive, with our children and grandchildren around us, learning and growing in Torah and ma’asim tovim. Amen!
· If we could go back in time and relive part of our lives, what would we do differently?
. Can you remember a time in your life when you were stuck in a situation that you didn’t want to be in but then all of a sudden your whole life changed for the better and then you were able to see clearly why you had to endure that uncomfortable experience?
Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey
Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah
Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam
Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal
Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal
Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther
Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal
Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal
Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami
Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael
Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel
Yaakov Ben Leah
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