The first verse in Parshas Chayei Sarah states that the years (shanim) of Sarah were
127, those were the years of the life of Sarah. Sarah passed away at that age. This verse
is a brief but extremely deep statement of the faith that characterized Sarah's life.
The Ksav Sofer brings down a Medrash which says: "Hashem knows the days (yamim) of
the whole ones (righteous- whole in faith) and their inheritance shall be forever."
What bearing does this have on a verse about Sarah's life and death? In a different place
Rashi comments that the word shanim implies good years, as opposed to yamim which implies
suffering. Yet we know that Sarah's life was filled with hardship and suffering, questions
the Ksav Sofer, how could the Torah use the word shanim in describing Sarah's life? The
Ksav Sofer explains that a that a truly righteous person loves his years of hardship and
sees them only as good for him. They are Hashem's afflictions of love for him. If he would
receive good in the present world, he worries that he may be receiving part of the reward
for his mitzvos in this world, and losing from his share in the World To Come. But with a
life of suffering the "whole ones" receive their complete reward in Olam Habah.
This is the epitome of Sarah's attitude toward her life of suffering; they were shanim,
good years to her. And this is what the Medrash comments on Sarah's life: Hashem loves
(intimate knowledge, as the Ramban explains) the "bad" years which the righteous
suffer while keeping their faith, and their inheritance is forever in the World To Come.
If we recall from the past parshios, Sarah shared almost all the tribulations of her
husband Avraham. She left her family and homeland where she was held in extremely high
regard to wander in Canaan, suffer from hunger, go down to Egypt where Avraham had her
hide in a box (you try that!), get taken captive to the Pharo's palace. Then she had to
travel more, was taken again, this time to Avimelech's palace. She suffered from years of
being unable to bear children, until she gave her maid as a wife to Avraham and suffered
more indignity when the maid bore a child and mocked her. And yet Sarah accepted all her
trials willingly with a tremendously positive attitude. She didn't even lose her simcha-
joy- when she had to have the maid and her child removed from the house. We can infer this
because when Avraham was reluctant to oust Hagar and Yishmael her son, Hashem told him to
listen to Sarah whose prophecy was greater than Avraham's. Now we know that Hashem's
prophetic spirit does not rest on one who is sad (as we find with Yitzchak who desired
good food to make him happy to bless his son, Yaakov who had no prophecy during the years
he mourned for Yosef), so if Sarah had prophecy she had to have been a very happy person
despite all! (This thought I did not see written anywhere.)
The one trial that Sarah did not share with Avraham was the binding of Yitzchak.
Avraham got up early and left to Har Hamoriah with Yitzchak without Sarah's knowledge. The
Satan was given permission to reveal to Sarah that her son was being bound for the
slaughter. Her soul left her due to the shock of the news, before she heard the last half
of the message that Hashem had rescinded the command at the last minute. Rashi tells us
this occurrence in his commentary on the second verse, words "to eulogize Sarah and
to cry for her". Why, asks Rav Moshe Teitlebaum quoted by the Ksav Sofer, did Rashi
not tell us the circumstances of Sarah's death on the words "and Sarah died"?
This would be the logical place for such a detail. He answers that in reality why did
Avraham have to cry at all over Sarah's passing? She was a great woman, complete in her
service of Hashem, greater than Avraham in prophecy, what more did she have to live for
that Avraham should bemoan her death? But when Avraham heard that Sarah had died of shock
upon hearing of her son's supposed slaughter, he thought that she had failed in her test
of faith and that she had died on a lower spiritual level having not withstood her trial.
So upon this loss did Avraham cry and grieve and this is where Rashi quotes the story.
Ksav Sofer adds that it is clear that Sarah died free of any sin. Her soul left her only
because of her supreme happiness at hearing about her son. She was so elevated spiritually
that her soul reached Hashem and stayed there.
The Torah wants to prevent us from drawing the wrong conclusion about Sarah, so the
first verse repeats "these are the years of the life of Sara". Rashi comments
that this repetition is necessary to tell us that all her years were equal in goodness. In
other words she passed away as a complete righteous person lacking nothing in her
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