SARA LIVED 100 AND 20 AND 7 YEARS. What is this, a high school term paper that needs 800 words so we're spreading them out as much as we can? No, actually, this is a quote from the Torah, and there are no mistakes or shortcuts in there. RASHI says the numbers were written out individually for a reason. When Sara was 100, she was likened to a 20 year old in aveiros, since a 20 year old has only just begun to be punishable b'yidai shomayim. When she was 20, she was like a 7 year old in beauty. No acne, no wrinkles, no badly applied make-up. And then RASHI adds: KULAN SHAVIN L'TOVA, THEY ARE ALL EQUAL TO GOOD.
Once, Rabbi Akiva was giving a drasha to his students, when he noticed they started dozing off...zzzzzzzz, so he wanted to wake them up somehow. So some ppl think that's what tuna cans were created for... but Rabbi Akiva had a different method- a more gentle approach to arouse his students. He decided to share a midrash with them.
Beraishis Rabba. What did Esther Hamalka see when she ruled over 127 nations? She saw herself as the daughter of Sara Imainu, that since Sara lived 127 years, she, Esther, was zocheh to rule over 127 nations.
Ok so on a scale of 1-10, which wake-up method is more effective, throwing tuna cans, or teaching this midrash? Why on earth did Rabbi Akiva feel that this midrash would revive his sleeping beauties?
The holy Chasam Sofer explains that yes, Esther was zocheh to rule the 127 nations in the zchus of the tzadekes, Sara, who lived a life of holiness for 127 years. But, the first few years of Sara's existence, she didnt serve Hashem properly, because she didnt have enough daas to know how to. She was too young. So, what zchus does Esther have to earn the benefit of the years that Sara wasn't doing proper avodas Hashem?
In the hesped after Sara's death, Avraham recited the meaningful poem of eishes chayil , indicating that she had been a complete and virtuous woman. One of the pssukim in the poem, states: VATAKAM BEOD LAILA VATITAIN TEREF L'BAISA VICHOK L'NAAROSEHA, AND SHE AWOKE WHILE IT WAS STILL NIGHT, AND SHE GAVE OUT FOOD TO HER HOUSEHOLD AND TO HER MAIDS.
A few years ago I had to call a certain woman to discuss something with her. Now, this organized, efficient, determined lady emerges from her slumber at 4 in the AM every single day. Even my alarm clock can't get up at that insane hour. So, there I was, proud to have gotten up at 8:00 to dial her number. Her "hello" was the most energetic one Ive ever heard, which made it rather uncomfortable for me when, in attempt to sound just as cheerful, an awful, off tune croak emerged from somewhere deep inside of me, exposing my darkest secret of having been in bed till 30 seconds before that. Well, we arranged for a meeting which was task # 8 for her that day, and I called it for 11, to make sure I had enough time to get dressed and get my house ready. Obviously that didnt leave me adequate time to eat anything, so I quickly ended our meeting at 12 pm, so that I can eat my breakfast, and so that she can go home and eat her supper before it got cold.
Why would someone choose to lose their precious sleep?
Do you know anyone who shows up at work every morning extra early and stays a few hours overtime afterward... without a gun to their head? I know someone who does. Why would someone choose to overwork?
Because these people are determined to accomplish something. Whether it's a clean home with happy children and an organized routine, or someone wants extra benefits or pay, these people understand that if you GIVE overtime, you GET overtime.
When one has a specific goal to reach, or a certain task to accomplish, the only way to attain it is by exerting themselves a bit, and putting in that extra effort. We all want to do mitzvos as often as possible, but how many of them pass us by, sticking out their tongues and waving ... mitzvos dont always come knocking at the door, but when they do, many times we're plugged in to our iPods and dont hear them knocking. Opportunities don't usually hang around waiting for us to catch them. Somehow, we seem to notice them more upon leaving, than coming.
But this only happens when being PASSIVE. Judaism is about being ACTIVE. Yeah, it's nice to get through the day just doing what we're supposed to do, without any extras, but then the results of our accomplishments will be standard, without the extras, too.
Sara got up extra early every morning, without being told to. Noone held an arrow to her head. She was active. She was searching for opportunities to take better care of her family and guests. She wanted extra time to work on her avodas Hashem. If you put in overtime, you get paid overtime.
All her years of rising before dawn, of being awake when it was time to sleep, accumulated to equal those few years when she was too young to be a proper ovedes Hashem. So on her paycheck, she had a complete 127 years of holiness. She had been considered awake when she was really sleeping. And that's why RASHI ends off with the words THEY WERE ALL EQUAL TO GOOD. She worked overtime, and got her just reward.
Do we now understand why Rabbi Akiva used that midrash to awaken his class? It was a delicate form of rebuking them. "Sara was awake when she should have been sleeping, and you guys are sleeping when you should be awake!"
Being PASSIVE allows for precious, personal opportunities to be lost forever and ever. It's a life of working and receiving undertime. Being ACTIVE allows for incredible accomplishment and a life of working and receiving overtime.
Ok, the Dvar Torah's over now, you can wake up.