Sarah’s Stages of Life
Of any stopping place in life, it is good to ask whether it will be a good place from which to go on as well as a good place to remain. -Mary Catherine Bateson
The first Matriarch of the Jewish people, Sarah, is reported as having lived to the grand old age of 127 years. The phraseology however is unusual. It states that she lived “one hundred years and twenty years and seven years.” Rashi, the classic rabbinic commentator, explains that the strange presentation of the years of Sarah’s life comes to teach us that at one hundred years she still had the innocence of a young adult, and that at twenty years old she still had the beauty of a seven year old.
Rabbi Hirsch on Genesis 23:1 takes this interpretation one step further and explains that Sarah’s particular achievement was that she lived each stage of her life correctly and was then able to bring those positive attributes to the next stage of her life. Hence, she possessed an untainted pure beauty from her childhood that stayed with her the rest of her life. Likewise and perhaps connected to it, she retained a childlike innocence both in her young adulthood and throughout her long life.
It seems there was some inner quality in Sarah, independent of any outward guises or efforts, which radiated purity, youth and beauty.
May we find and develop those inner qualities.
To Tamara on her birthday.