In this week’s Torah portion, Sarah and Abraham, our first matriarch and first patriarch, pass away. It is fascinating to observe the comments about Sarah and Abraham, as they grow older.
First, we note that Abraham’s first prophecy was at the tender age of 75, G-d famously instructing him to leave his father’s house and homeland, and go to Israel. This prophecy came at an age when most people are winding down, but Abraham and Sarah, began the adventures recorded in Genesis at this not so young age. He became the quintessential example of kindness to strangers, and kindness to all, and he was the first to be circumcised. They dealt with famines and abductions; wars, and, many decades of childlessness, until being blessed with a child at age 100 and age 90 respectively.
The verse (Genesis 24:1) states that “Abraham was old, well on in years, and G-d blessed Abraham with everything”. What does the verse mean that Abraham was blessed with “everything”? Abraham was wealthy, but wealth isn’t “everything”, as so many people who are wealthy and ill, or wealthy and lonely, or wealthy and depressed, know only too well.
Abraham was blessed with wealth, a good reputation, longevity, good health and children. But Abraham was also blessed with the knowledge that he had accomplished great spiritual deeds in this world, and was leaving a spiritual legacy to his descendants.
When Sarah passed away at the age of 127, we are told that all of her years were equally good. Really? Were the years of infertility, abductions, war and famine, as good as the year she miraculously gave birth to Isaac at age 90? Sarah undoubtedly preferred motherhood over the years of barrenness and travail, but she accepted the good, and the not as good, graciously. Sarah came with “all her days”, meaning that she made each day count.
The stories in Genesis are not recorded for posterity merely because they are interesting stories. The stories are meant to speak to us in our time, and to teach us lessons. Don’t measure your life exclusively with financial metrics. Be like Sarah and Abraham, make every day count, live your life building a spiritual legacy, and pass it on to your children. If you do, you too will have been “blessed with everything”.