100 and 20 and 7 By Rabbi Joel Grossman

(2002/5763)

This week’s parsha opens with a pasuk teaching us about the life of Sara.  The Pasuk tells us that she lived for 127 years but its language is that she lived for 100 years 20 years and seven years.  Rashi is bothered by this and he answers that when she was 100 she was similar to a woman of 20 when it came to punishment for sin, for just as a 20-year-old isn’t worthy of punishment by the heavenly court so, too, Sara was deserving of punishment at 10.  Rashi further states that when she was 20 she was similar to a girl of 7 in terms of beauty.  Rav Moshe Feinstein in דרש משה asks a question on this comment of Rashi.  He is bothered by the fact that a woman of 20 is usually more beautiful than a girl of 7, so what then, does Rashi mean by his explanation?  He answers that for a young girl of 7, no matter what she does, the people observing it will only see the יופי in it.  The observers comment that the reason for her actions is that she is so young.  This is the great tribute which the Torah pays to Sarah; when Sara was 20, just like at 7 everyone saw all of her actions as יופי, nice.  It is not a physical description of a 20-year-old compared to a 7-year-old rather it is a description of her actions and how they were viewed by others. 

How can we work on ourselves so that our actions also will be viewed as proper and correct?  I believe the answer can be found in a story I once heard from Rabbi Joseph Stavsky.  He told a story of two rabbis who lived in a certain city.  One was very successful and whenever he spoke the synagogue was packed with people who anticipated his every word.  During the week people would be speaking about his speech.  The other rabbi, who prepared very diligently for his speeches and Shiurim, was not as fortunate.  When he spoke hardly anyone ever attended, and even those who did never gave his words any thought.  One day the two rabbis met and the unsuccessful one asked his counterpart for the secret to all of his success.  The successful rabbi responded that he could read minds.  The other said, “that is impossible, no one can read minds.”  The first rabbi said, “it is true, I really can read minds.  You think of something and I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of.”  The unsuccessful rabbi decided to go along with this so he thought of something and then said, “tell me what I am thinking.”  The other rabbi responded, “you are thinking of the פסוק in תהילים ofשויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד .”  The unsuccessful rabbi screamed out “I knew you were a fake.  I am not thinking that at all.”  The successful rabbi said, “that is my point!  The reason for my success is that I put Hashem before me at all times.”  We, too, must keep this message with us constantly, realizing that whatever we do, wherever we go, we are constantly in front of Hashem and we must make the correct choices ובחרת חיים in life.  If we have this thought with s hopefully people will only see the יופי in our actions at whatever age we are.

This week’s parsha opens with a pasuk teaching us about the life of Sara.  The Pasuk tells us that she lived for 127 years but its language is that she lived for 100 years 20 years and seven years.  Rashi is bothered by this and he answers that when she was 100 she was similar to a woman of 20 when it came to punishment for sin, for just as a 20 year old isn’t worthy of punishment by the heavenly court so, too, Sara was deserving of punishment at 10.  Rashi further states that, when she was 20 she was similar to a girl of 7 in terms of beauty.  Rav Moshe Feinstein in דרש משה asks a question on this comment of Rashi.  He is bothered by the fact that a woman of 20 is usually more beautiful than a girl of 7, so what then, does Rashi mean by his explanation?  He answers that for a young girl of 7, no matter what she does, the people observing it will only see the יופי in it.  The observers comment that the reason for her actions is that she is so young.  This is the great tribute which the Torah pays to Sarah; when Sara was 20, just like at 7 everyone saw all of her actions as יופי, nice.  It is not a physical description of a 20 year old compared to a 7 year old rather it is a description of her actions and how they were viewed by others. 

How can we work on ourselves so that our actions also will be viewed as proper and correct?  I believe the answer can be found in a story I once heard from Rabbi Joseph Stavsky.  He told a story of two rabbis who lived in a certain city.  One was very successful and whenever he spoke the synagogue was packed with people who anticipated his every word.  During the week people would be speaking about his speech.  The other rabbi, who prepared very diligently for his speeches and Shiurim, was not as fortunate.  When he spoke hardly anyone ever attended, and even those who did never gave his words any thought.  One day the two rabbis met and the unsuccessful one asked his counterpart for the secret to all of his success.  The successful rabbi responded that he could read  minds .  The other said, “that is impossible, no one can read minds.”  The first rabbi said, “it is true, I really can read minds.  You think of something and I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of.”  The unsuccessful rabbi decided to go along with this so he thought of something and then said, “tell me what I am thinking.”  The other rabbi responded, “you are thinking of the פסוק in תהילים ofשויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד .”  The unsuccessful rabbi screamed out “I knew you where a fake.  I am not thinking that at all.”  The successful rabbi said, “that is my point!  The reason for my success is that I put Hashem before me at all times.”  We, too, must keep this message with us constantly, realizing that whatever we do, wherever we go, we are constantly in front of Hashem and we must make the correct choices ובחרת חיים in life.  If we have this thought with s hopefully people will only see the יופי in our actions at whatever age we are.

 

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