Years Years Years

Note: I wrote this post a year ago. And it sat as a draft in my WordPress until today. In honor of Ilana-Davita and because Raizy misses Ilana-Davita’s parsha post this week, I am now hitting ‘published.’ Please note that I never finished, but at the bottom you will see that I found a high school student who did.

וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה, מֵאָה שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים--שְׁנֵי, חַיֵּי שָׂרָה.
And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.

One of the problems with writing about the parsha is getting it up before Shabbat is not always the easiest task, and one often has more time to review the parsha on Shabbat. So here’s a few more thoughts on the years of Sarah, before we turn to the parsha of this coming week, Toldot.

What’s the question about the opening pasuk, the opening sentence of the Torah portion? Unless you read Hebrew, you might think from the English that it only says “years” twice. However, it really says “shanah” or years 4 times. Since everything in the Torah is repeated for a reason, why so many years?

There is a midrash that goes with the story of Sarah. It’s like this:

When Sarah was 100, it was as though she was twenty in sin.

And when Sarah was 20, it was as though she was 7 in beauty.

So Rashi claims that we learn this midrash from the fact that the pasuk repeats the word “shanah” or year: 100 years, 20 years and 7 years. But the Ramban says no, we learn the midrash from the end of the pasuk, where it says “And these were the years of Sarah.” Because by Yishmael, it also has years repeated, but his years were not all alike.

And here the post ended…but Nachi Friedman provides a good summary of what the commentators had to say about this topic of Sarah’s years.

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