Support The Karen Berg Scholarship Fund. Learn More
The portion Chayei Sarah begins, Vayihyu Chayei Sarah, mea shana, veesrim shana, vesheva shanim, shenei Chayei Sarah, “The days of Sarah were the years of her life, a hundred year, and twenty year, and seven years. These were the years of the life of Sarah.” The Midrash says it is not a coincidence that the beginning of this portion, which speaks of the death of Sarah, comes right after the discussion of the birth of Rebecca at the end of the previous portion, Vayera; the Midrash makes a connection between the birth of Rebecca, who was going to be the wife of Isaac, and the death of Sarah, the mother of Isaac and the wife of Abraham.
"There can never be a lack when it comes to spiritual matters."
To begin this understanding, the Midrash quotes a verse from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which says, "The sun rises and the sun sets.” There is, it says, a secret in this verse: whenever a great soul is leaving this world, corresponding to the setting of the sun, there must always be the rising of another sun at the same time, a soul that is as great as the one that’s leaving. And so it is with Sarah and Rebecca.
So, a great soul never leaves this world without the awakening and revelation of a corresponding great soul. For example, on the day Rav Akiva passed away, the great sage Rav Yehuda Nassi was born. And on the day Rav Yehuda Nassi left this world, Rav Aba, another great sage, was born. When the sages saw the passing of Rav Yehuda Nassi and the birth of Rav Aba they said, "The sun of Rav Yehuda is setting, the sun of Rav Aba is rising,” just as they had said, "The sun of Rav Akiva is setting, the sun of Rav Yehuda Nassi is rising.”
There is an even deeper and further understanding from this, based on one of the simplest teachings of Rav Ashlag: there can never be a lack when it comes to spiritual matters. What does that mean? When a person invests energy in a project, but that project doesn't manifest as he or she desires it to, the Light and energy that was invested in it doesn’t go to waste; it has to go somewhere else. But if a person does not have the consciousness that energy can never dissipate, that Light can never disappear, then he might not be able, at that time, to receive it. So, although it's true that Light and energy invested never get lost, if we do not have that consciousness, we won’t necessarily immediately receive that Light.
When we have this clarity and live with this consciousness all the time, we can never be disappointed or upset. Because now we understand that if we have invested time or energy into a person or a thing, it’s ok if it doesn’t go the way we desired; we have certainty that energy is there forever, and whether or not it manifested exactly as we wanted is not as important as the fact that Light and energy is now going to follow us.
"Our job in this world is to do what we can to reveal the Light."
Sarah and Abraham did many things in their lives; some bore long-term fruits, and some, one would say objectively, failed. They had thousands and thousands of students, and not many of those students stayed with them until the end. But, how did Sarah view it - did she think the Light and energy she invested in all those students had gone to waste? No. Sarah had her years, her life, her energy with her. She knew that every piece of energy she invested from the moment she began her spiritual work in this world until the moment she left it was with her always. Whether or not a person or situation manifested the way she desired it to was secondary; it was not important, because she knew that Light was hers, that energy was hers, that she had revealed it. And therefore, she owned all of her years.
If our consciousness is, "I just wasted a year, all that energy that I invested in a person or in a project has been wasted,” then we don't “own” that year anymore, and it is like that year is completely lost. If we're 35 years old, for example, we now only have 34 years of our life, because we lost that year. But when Sarah left this world, it says she had all of her years, because she knew there was never one second of her life that was wasted. She knew that Light does not dissipate and energy never goes away.
So, the question to ask ourselves is: How do we live our life, with what consciousness? Do we think that anything we do of a positive nature dissipates or disappears? If so, then it does. But if we know that the Light and energy we manifest never dissipates, then we are never disappointed about things not going exactly as we wanted them to, because all our energy is revealing and manifesting the Light of the Creator in this world in one way, shape, or form; whether it manifests exactly as we desire or not is secondary, because that energy is ours forever.
Our job in this world is to do what we can to reveal the Light, to help, assist, and share, in whatever ways we can. If we manifest energy, if we awaken Light, if we’re given wisdom, if we’re given something we share, then that Light and energy is ours forever, and we know it will manifest somewhere, without caring where, as long as we’re clear that Light is with us. Sarah lived this way; she lived all of the days of her life, it tells us. And the gift of beginning to live our lives in this same way, having this consciousness, is given to us on the Shabbat of Chayei Sarah.