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The power of our past to define our future

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In this week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, literally “The Life of Sarah”, we are informed of her passing.

The Torah states: “These are the years of the life of Sarah 100 years, twenty years and seven years the years of her life”. Rashi noting the seeming repetition of the phrase years of her life comments that “all the years of her life were equally good”. The statement of Rashi is baffling. Sarah’s life was tumultuous and full of ordeals and crisis from being barren to having to survive ordeals in Egypt in hiding.

So why were her years “equally good”?

There is a midrashic passage which attempts to answer this question:

“Rabbi Akiva was sitting and expounding Torah. His audience fell asleep. He tried to awaken them, and said, ‘What motivated Queen Esther to reign over one hundred and twenty and seven provinces? We must assume that Esther, as a descendant of Sarah who lived for one hundred and twenty and seven years, considered it proper to reign over one hundred and twenty and seven provinces.'” (Bereshit Rabbah)

The cryptic response has baffled the greatest of minds. Rav Tzadok offers a most magnificent exposition in an attempt to unlock this comparison. He suggests that the medrash is drawing a parallel through the number of 127 between the life experienced by Esther to that of Sarah.

Queen Esther, having discovered........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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