Halacha » A Lesson from Sarah Imenu

A Lesson from Sarah Imenu

In the Parasha this week, we find the events that follow after the burial of Sarah Imenu. What is interesting to note about all the events is that none seem to speak about Sarah Imenu. Normally the title of a chapter is indicative of the contents of the chapter, for example if one wrote a chapter on the Halachot of Tsisit one may name the title of the chapter Halachot Tsisit. This doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to this week’s parasha. The parasha is called “Ḥayeh Sarah” (the life of Sarah) yet we find little to no mention of Sarah Imenu’s life. We actually have more about Sarah Imenu’s life in the previous Parashiyot where we learn that Sarah Imenu was taken hostage by Paroah and Abimelech, the sending away of Yishmael from her house due his bad influence on her son etc. This begs the question, why is this Parasha entitled Ḥayeh Sarah when it seems further from the truth?

In order to answer this question, we need to examine further into the parasha. Avraham sends Eliezer to find a proper shidduch for Yishak, which Eliezer duly proceeds to do. To facilitate finding a suitable prospect, Eliezer sets up the “sign” which will accent the high standards of hessed of the girl; offering water not only to Eliezer, but to his camels as well. Ribkah fulfills all the details of Eliezer’s sign to the tee, and she is chosen to be the prospective wife of Yishak Abinu. After a short exchange between Eliezer and Laban, Ribkah agrees to go back with Eliezer and marry Yishak. Upon arrival Ribkah Imenu sees Yiṣhak and modestly slides down the camel and proceeds towards Yiṣhak Abinu where he in turn takes her first to his mothers’ tent. The Torah states “Vaybi’eha Yiṣhak Ha’ohelah Sarah Imo” (and Yiṣhak took her to the tent of Sarah his mother). Alternatively, the pasuk can be read “Vaybi’eha Yiṣhak Ha’ohelah, Sarah Imo” (and Yiṣhak took her to the tent, and it was Sarah his mother). This is to tell us that Ribkah Imenu resembled Sarah Imenu in every way. Hazal state that when Sarah was alive, the Shechina resided in her tent, her Shabbat candles would stay lit from one Shabbat to the next Shabbat, as well as the bread she made, which would also be fresh from Shabbat to Shabbat. When Ribkah Imenu entered the tent, everything that had left when Sarah Imenu had passed, returned.

We learn from Sarah Imenu an amazing lesson, normally a person has an effect on his surroundings only throughout his lifetime; but as soon as they pass on — it’s over. Even people whose legacy outlived them, that too, is generally only partial. The legacy of the (Avot and Imahot on the otherhand is everlasting, not only changing history — but shaping history. People try to imitate the good deeds of the forefathers, and Rivkah was the first to do so. With regards to her acts of kindness, Rivkah was a “carbon copy” of Sarah Imenu.

With all of this we can come back and answer our initial question as to why the parashah is called “Ḥayeh Sarah” if there is no mention of Sarah Imenu, especially when previous parashiyot presumably spoke more about her life? The truth of the matter is, if we look at all the previous parashiyot, what we see is that Sarah Imenu had a seemingly difficult life— from not having a child until her later years, as well as being captured by Abimelech and Paroah. Even through all the difficulties she endured, she still went out of her way to do ḥessed. The Torah is not teaching us about the life of Sarah Imenu—rather legacy of Sarah Imanu.

This parashah truly demonstrates how the life of Sarah Imenu shaped the world after she passed, and how one must learn from her life not to let any difficulty affect our service of HaShem. We should keep pushing forward with the Miṣvot that we are doing and not let them fall by the wayside. May HaShem give us the strength that Sarah Imenu had, to continuously grow in our service and even when challenging times come, say “gam zu letobah”.

Shabbat Shalom