B”H
 
CHAYEI SARAH
 
VISION, MASTERY AND PERCEPTION
 
The Life of Sarah?
There are just a few Torah portions named after individuals. The first is the parsha of Noach, appropriately named after the man from whom all of humanity descends. The second is this week’s parsha, entitled Chayei Sarah-the Life of Sarah.
When surveying this parsha we find that it actually does not discuss her life at all but rather the events that occurred in relation to her passing, from her funeral onward. It begins with the purchase of her burial plot and the negotiations between Abraham and Efron regarding the purchase of that plot. Burial is hardly a description of one’s life!
Likewise, all the ensuing narratives deal with the aftermath of her life, including Abraham’s remarriage to Keturah!
Yet this parsha is, ironically, called Chayei Sarah-the Life of Sarah.
The Rebbe addresses this odd situation and explains that, in fact, all the events of this parsha, although they occurred after and in conjunction with her passing, exemplify what her life was all about.
 
Concretizing Abraham’s Values
One of the highlights of Abraham’s life was G‑d’s promise that he would inherit the Land of Cana’an.  This did not materialize during Sarah’s lifetime. The first time Abraham actually took full possession of a part of the Land was when he purchased – for full price – the Cave of Machpelah as her resting place.   G‑d’s promise that the Land of Cana’an would go to Abraham and his progeny did not find concrete expression until after, and in relation to, her passing.
This, the Rebbe explains, was the power of Sarah and of all women: to concretize the ideals of Abraham.
Similarly, Abraham’s dismissal of his other sons and bequeathing everything he owned to Isaac, as discussed in this parsha, was a result of Sarah’s insight and foresight that Abraham’s legacy would go through Isaac exclusively.  Sarah planted the seed in her lifetime and it finally took root after her passing. In her lifetime, it was not clear if Abraham would grasp her insight that Yishmael and Isaac were not equal and that only Yitzchak would be the heir to Abraham’s legacy.
Abraham only internalized her superior vision, sensitivity and sense of discernment after her passing.
In effect, the Rebbe states, when did we see Sarah’s life? In the events that transpired after her and in connection with her passing.
Sarah’s Three Powers
If we analyze Sarah’s life more specifically, we can discern several features.
First, Sarah was known for her prophetic vision. In fact, the first name she was given was Yiskah, which means she had vision. Rashi explains that she saw things through the prism of her Divine inspiration. So great was her prophetic vision that G‑d tells Abraham to listen to her voice: “Whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her voice.” Rashi explains that she was superior to Abraham in prophecy.
In short, Sarah was equipped with powerful vision and foresight.
Second, Sarah had incredible mastery over herself and her environment. She had the power to strike at those who wished to defile her in Pharaoh’s palace. Abraham, the Zohar tells us, was not concerned about Sarah’s safety when taken by Pharaoh because he knew that she was impervious to the threats from others. The Torah tells us that “G‑d struck Pharaoh and his household.” Rashi explains that Sarah instructed an angel to strike Pharaoh. She had power over angels and forces of nature.
Moreover, at the beginning of this week’s parsha the Torah hints that all of her years were equally good. The Rebbe explains that in truth she had a very difficult life. However, she exhibited so much strength that she was able to exercise control over her reactions and responses to the vicissitudes of her life. While her life resembled a road with many bumps and potholes she rode over life’s pathways as if they were perfectly level.
Sarah’s power to smooth out the earth on which she travelled foreshadowed the miracle the Jewish people experienced in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, whereby the Clouds of Glory leveled all hills and mountains, according to the Midrash.
Third, Sarah was endowed with the power of perception and discrimination. She knew the difference between Yishmael and Yitzchak, which only became apparent to Abraham after her passing. She could not tolerate the possibility that Yishmael would inherit along with her son Isaac.
 
Sarah’s Three Names
These three aspects of Sarah are paralleled by the three names that she was given.
Her first name, as stated above, was Yiskah, which highlights her vision and foresight.
The second name, Sarai, which means “My Princess,” indicates her mastery over natural forces; she had the power to control not only herself, but also her environment.
Her third name Sarah indicates her exalted level of royalty. Royalty cannot tolerate things that are not befitting a queen. Royalty demands excellence and abhors compromised situations. When the power of royalty is revealed undesirable negative forces disappear.  Abraham was associated with royalty himself, but Sarah was the real power behind the throne. Abraham’s name means “father of a multitude of nations.” It does not mean “king of a multitude of nations,” because his power of royalty remained beneath the surface of his fatherly approach. As great and holy as Abraham was he couldn’t discriminate between his sons. If left to his own devices, he would have squandered some of his energy on Yishmael, which would have either gone to waste or been diverted into improper places.
If that had occurred, Yitzchak would not have received his due and Abraham’s legacy as the progenitor of the Jewish people would not have been realized. And together with the failure to transmit his values and energy to the Jewish people would have been his failure to fulfill G‑d’s purpose for creating the world: to make a dwelling place for Him. Realization of that purpose hinged on the Patriarchs, who paved the way for the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The Patriarchs’ success depended in turn upon the Matriarchs, particularly Sarah, who had the power to protect and enhance Abraham’s investment.
Sarah’s ultimate power ensured that Abraham’s light was channeled to the right place.
 
Sarah’s Three Miracles
These three aspects of Sarah can be said to parallel the three miracles that occurred in her home.  These miracles ceased upon her passing, only to be reinstated by Isaacs’s marriage to Rebecca.
The first miracle was that her Shabbos candles continued to burn from one Shabbos to the next. Just like the lights of the miracle of Chanukah, her Shabbos lights would not go out on their own.
The second miracle was the blessing in her dough.
And the third miracle was that a cloud, expressing the Divine glory, hovered over her tent.
These three features/miracles reflect the three areas of Sarah’s greatness: light, holiness and purity, which, in turn, parallel her three traits of vision, mastery and discrimination.
Light is intimately related to vision. Sarah’s prophetic prowess, represented by the name Yiskah, is related to light and clarity of vision.
The blessing in her dough, which is connected to the Mitzvah of separating a piece of dough (Challah) and consecrating it, was a result of her consecrated life. By living a G‑dly life one may become master over the physical and natural world. The miracle here was that even a little piece of dough sufficed, just like the Manna from heaven. No matter how small an amount of Manna one collected in the desert, there was always enough to eat.
The cloud that hovered over Sarah’s tent indicated that G‑d felt comfortable “visiting” her home because the negative influences had been cleared out. Everything was spic and span, clean in every sense of the word.
Sarah and Moshiach
Sarah’s role was to counter the reversal caused by Eve when she partook of the forbidden fruit. That transgression caused concealment of the original light, created on day one of Creation, which gave one the ability to see from one end of the world to the other.
Eve’s indiscretion also introduced death to the world, granting nature control over our existence.
Her eating the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge initiated a confusing mixture of good and evil that makes it difficult to discriminate between them.
From Eve’s time onward, we have been challenged to reverse that dynamic  and lead the world to the Messianic Age. Sarah’s three names, characteristics and miracles reversed the three areas of degradation brought on by Eve. Sarah was the first person to make a significant dent in the world’s sorry state of decline.
Moshiach’s Three Powers
These three characteristics of Sarah are the samples of Moshiach’s accomplishments; they are the ultimate manifestation of royalty.
Rambam, in describing Moshiach, writes that he is a “prophet nearly as great as Moses.” This parallels Sarah’s prophetic vision. Moshiach will teach Torah to everyone visually because he is endowed with the ultimate in vision.
Moshiach is described as one “who rides on a donkey.” The Hebrew term for donkey, Chamor, can also be translated to mean the material world. The expression “riding on a donkey” is explained by the Maharal as a reference to his mastery over his own physical body and environment. Moshiach exercises control over himself and his environment.
Moshiach also fights against all negative influences. Moshiach will repair all the breaches and remove all the negative influences from the world.
Where does Moshiach get the power for all of the above?
He inherited it from the Matriarch Sarah.
When the Sarah’s of our own generation emulate the three traits of Sarah, light, holiness and purity, they pave the way for Moshiach to reveal those three traits in an even grander form as he ushers in the Final Redemption.