This coming week, we’ll read parsha Chayei Sara, the life of Sarah. Of course, most parshot (as well as books) in the Torah are named for some of their first words. This is no exception. The second and third words are “chayei sara”. Then again, so are the eleventh and twelfth words, still within the first verse. In full, it reads:
וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה׃
And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.
So, although it’s called “the life of Sara”, it’s actually about her death. In a moment, I’d like to get to what comes after her passing, but for now, let’s focus on this first verse.
Why is “chayei sara” repeated? I don’t speak Hebrew, but here’s something that jumps out at me here. The first time, it says “the life of Sarah was so and so many years”. That tells us, “Sarah got to live for this long.”
The second time, though, the wording is flipped. It’s “the years of the life of Sarah.” In other words, the years that the world got to have Sarah in it. The focus here becomes the impact she had on those around her and on her time. From this, we learn that the acts and deeds of her life actually extend beyond her passing. She had a lasting impact that was felt and that made a difference even when she was no longer present.