In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Chayei Sarah, Sarah passes away at the age of 127. The text says, “וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה”. The last words of this pasuk, “שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה” translates to “the two lives of Sarah”.
But what does this mean? A person does not have two lives; we only live one life. So what does the Torah mean by saying “the two lives of Sarah”?
One answer relates to Sarah giving birth to Yitzchak. As we know, Sarah did not have a baby until the age of 90. She had a fulfilling, long life before giving birth; however, it was not until then that she started a new life as a mother, as well as giving an entirely new life: Yitzchak’s. So, this might be the “two lives” that the Torah refers to: Sarah’s life before she had a baby and her life after.
Another idea to think about is Sarah’s original name. Initially, Sarah and her husband Avraham had different names. Sarah’s old name was Sarai, and Avraham’s was Avram. G-d gave them new names by adding a ה from His own name. Therefore, Sarai turned into Sarah, Avram turned into Avraham. From this, we can infer that “the two lives of Sarah” can also be referencing Sarah’s life before her and Avraham’s names were changed, versus after. Sarah’s life as Sarai, and her life as Sarah.
We see from just these two possibilities the fact that the Torah does not waste any words. By saying “the two lives of Sarah” instead of “the life of Sarah”, the Torah is hinting to us that there is a reason for it. It allows us to unravel the hidden meaning of words as well as encourages us to keep learning and looking for answers to our questions.
By: Elizabeth Ebner (9th Grade)