(reposted from Clear Horizons)
Chayei Sarah, 1st aliyah (Genesis 23:1-16)
November 17, 2019 (19 Chesvan 5780)
by Tzvi Schnee
The parashas begins with the death of Sarah, a seemingly disconnected beginning to a narrative entitled Chayei Sarah – the Life of Sarah. Yet, Torah is always pointing towards significant truths below the surface of the text. Like the ocean, Torah’s depths appear to be unfathomable; yet, let’s take a look at this particular mystery, concerning the apparent incongruity of title and narrative.
The first word of the parashas, vayechi, meaning “life,” according to R. Bachya implies “something that exists permanently,” thereby, it could be inferred that this hints toward the understanding that her soul would “take up permanent residence in the celestial regions” (R. Bachya, commentary on Genesis 23:1, sefaria.org). Therefore, Sarah’s soul lives on, in Olam Haba (the World-to-Come).
In this respect, Chayei Sarah, the Life of Sarah may be understood as an implicit message or remez (hint), concerning Sarah’s continued existence in Olam Haba. Thus the title of the parashas points to the promise of an Afterlife, for the righteous in the World-to-Come.
“So He redeemeth his soul from going into the pit, and his life beholdeth the light.”
– Job 33:28 JPS 1917 Tanach