Friday, November 13, 2009

Age - Parshat Hayyei Sarah

Parshat Hayyei Sarah
26 Heshvan, 5770
13 November, 2009

And this is the life of Sarah: 100 years, 20 years, and 7 years, the years of the life of Sarah.
Bereishit 23:1

    I turned thirty over the summer. It’s been, frankly, a little crazy to watch as I climb out of my twenties. I once promised myself I would never be thirty. Whoops.
    But the transition into actual adulthood, something I once strenuously avoided, has been a surprising pleasure. Jobs and relationships have gifts of stability and satisfaction that hit you sideways, and you finally realize what the hell your parents were thinking.
    And one of the really fascinating pieces of growing up is that you realize that you never really leave behind the age that you have passed by; rather, we carry with us the flotsam of years past, qualities, attitude, opinions, habits that are a mark of earlier time. I had figured that we were all complicated enough already, but it seems that there’s always more to add.
    This parsha is Hayyei Sarah, “The Life of Sara” - and I suppose its true, in a way. But it begins with the death of Sarah, the age at which she died, to be specific, letting us know that she reached 127. The Torah’s way of expressing her age is unusual, however, broken into parts - 100 years, 20 years, 7 years - and the verse has always been a place where commentators spend time.
    “When she was 100 years old, she was like a  20 year-old in beauty, and when she was 20, she was like a 7 year old in innocence.” (Yalkut Tehillim 37)
    Sarah’s blessing is that age was never her prison, it was the sea in which she swam. Though she laughed, she bore a son past her 90th birthday. And, as we learn here, she carried beauty and innocence with her far past the age where such things would be fashionable.
    Sarah’s message to us is that the pieces of ourselves we carry from when we were younger are treasures, not detritus. But also that growing older simply increases our store of those precious objects. To see age as more than an emptying hourglass, that is Sarah’s teaching.


Post a Comment