In our Torah portion this week, Chayei Sarah, Sarah our matriarch passes away. The text doesn’t tell us much about her life, or the circumstances of her death, but rather just how old she was when she died. Genesis 23:1 says “and the life of Sarah was a hundred years and seven years and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.” The Hebrew word for “years” appears in the first sentence four times, which seems unusual, redundant, and unnecessary. But according to the commentators, the Torah does so to teach us a very beautiful and important lesson.
According to a midrash, the seemingly unnecessary repetition is there to teach us that the righteous are more precious to God in this world and in the world to come. While Sarah has passed on, because of her righteousness and the way she lived her life, she will actually continue to live on forever because she instilled that which was important to her to the succeeding generations.
This past week one of the greatest rabbinic sages of our time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, passed away. There has been a tremendous amount written about his legacy and his teachings, way more than our Torah mentions about Sarah upon her passing. But like Sarah, the impact he and his torah have had on the Jewish community and world at large is tremendous. As someone who has been inspired by and has taught his torah (as recently as this past Rosh Hashana), it is clear to me that also like Sarah, his righteousness will transcend his death. The lessons, the values, and the teachings that he has shared will continue to inspire me, and all of us, for generations to come. May we all be inspired by their legacies, pushing ourselves to craft our own.
May their memories be for a blessing,
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch