Cantor’s message for the Temple Newsletter for November 10th, 2023
It is said that cats have 9 lives due to their resilience and flexibility to land on their feet after a fall from a great height. I wonder… how many lives would you say you have, taking into account this triggering idea?
All of us have probably fallen more than once and felt as if we had fallen 5 floors down. A major surgery, a financial challenge, a response from a family member you would never have imagined, the loss of a dear friend, a trip or a new job, are some examples.
This week we read about the death of our matriarch, Sarah, at the age of 127 years. But the Torah begins by saying this very thing in a very strange way.
“Sarah’s lifetime came to one hundred and twenty-seven years” (Genesis 23:1)
The first thing, then, is to note that the Torah recounts her death by highlighting the word Chai, life. Instead of saying that she died at 127 years, it says that she lived 127 years. Interesting!
Furthermore, it is striking to discover that the first verb of the sentence is conjugated in the plural and not in the singular. That is to say, “and the lives of Sarah were 127 years”. Shouldn’t it say “and Sarah’s life was 127 years”?
“Vayihu” (and they were) has a numerical value in Hebrew equal to 37 (6+10+5+10+6).
If Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years and we subtract thirty-seven years, we will have ninety years. Which was precisely the age at which Sarah gave birth to her only son, Isaac!
Perhaps we can guess that, just as the first verb of this verse suggests, Sarah did not have one life but two: one life of ninety years of desperate prayers for the child that nature denied them and another life of thirty-seven years of enjoyment and thankfulness for the son that G-d gave them.
It is inevitable for me to identify myself with this Parasha, upon discovering that my first daughter has been conceived at my current age of 37.
May God grant that this daughter renews the hopes of our entire community during these times of great adversity for the people of Israel. May life be reborn with the strength and aroma of a new flower bud warmed by the light of the sun.
Entering the month of Kislev, may the light of these festivities illuminate our lives. This life and all the previous ones that have allowed us to be here today, grateful to be who we are today. Shehecheyanu!