Messianic Education Trust
    Khayiy Sarah  
(Gen 23:1 - 25:18)

B'resheet/Genesis 23:1   Sarah's lifetime was one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years; the years of Sarah's life (Artscroll, Stone Edition)

The commentators spend a lot of time on the apparent redundancy of the Torah's words in this verse. Why does the Torah, usually sparing and terse it its use of words, repeat the word 'year' three times in the first phrase and then follow that with the repetitive second phrase? Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi attributes qualities of each age-group to Sarah's life, while the Sfat Emet suggests that Sarah's years are emphasised because they were good years - all fruitful and productive.

This leads us to the idea that each year was important; that Sarah lived each year as if it might have been the last - so that each year counted. There is a place in the What Is ...

Sifrei: An early composite midrash/commentary on B'Midbar and D'varim; probably composed around the time of the Mishna (200CE); known and referenced in the Talmud; the B'Midbar portion from the school of R. Simeon, the D'varim portion from that of R. Akiva
comment to this passage (Piska 41) where the rabbis teach, "Whatever you do should be done out of love for G-d," suggesting that Sarah's life was good because she was always looking to serve G-d. A matter-of-fact reading of the Biblical text may lead us to think that is a rather idealistic point of view, but we do know that Sarah showed remarkable loyalty to her husband during the course of a marriage probably lasting over a hundred years and going through some extremely trying circumstances, not the least of which was following Avram when he left their life in Haran for a nomadic existence who-knows-where just because "G-d said so".

Yeshua tells us, "Do not worry about tomorrow - tomorrow will worry about itself! Today has enough tsuris already" (Matt 6:34, CJB), which clearly speaks to the importance of living each day at a time. Similarly, Ya'akov, in his letter, warns us about presuming to say, "today or tomorrow we will go to such-and-such a city, stay there a year and make a profit!" when all we are is "a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears" (Ya'akov 4:13, CJB). At the same time, Rav Sha'ul tells us that anyone who does not provide for the needs of his family "has denied the faith, and is worse that an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8, NASB) - this is usually taken to imply financial planning and making regular commitments.

So how do we resolve these opposites: live only for today, but plan for tomorrow? By making responsible and prayerful plans before the L-rd, but holding them lightly, recognising that all our days belong to Him and letting Him lead us each day.

Further Study: Hebrews 11:13-16, Proverbs 3:5-6

Application: Has your life become stuck in a round of routine, or are you living each day responsible before the L-rd as if it were your last?

© Jonathan Allen, 2003

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