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    Without a
    question, one
    of the greatest
    women in the
    history of the
    world was Sarah
    Imeinu. The
    posuk testifies
    that when she was one hundred
    years old, she was absolutely free
    of sin like an innocent twenty
    year old. And when the posuk
    then repeats, “Shnei chaiyei
    Sarah – The years of the life of
    Sarah,” Rashi adds the incredible
    explanation that, “Kulon shavin
    l’tovah – All of her years were
    equal in their goodness.”
    It is therefore quite puzzling
    that, moments before her death,
    the Satan was given license to
    shock her with the news that
    Avraham was taking her only
    son to slaughter on the alter. It
    was on this shocking note that
    her perfect life came to an end.
    Why would Hashem choose
    such a traumatic moment to be
    the finale of such a beautiful and
    picture-perfect life?
    Perhaps even more perplexing
    is the fact that we are taught that
    the only way to earn entry into
    the rarified grave of the Meoras
    HaMachpelah is to be one of
    the elite few who died by ‘misa
    b’nashika,’ through the kiss of
    Hashem. How do we know
    this? The posuk says, “Vayakom
    Avraham mei-al penei meiso –
    Avraham got up from the face of
    his dead.” The word ‘face’ seems
    to be superfluous. In explanation,
    our commentators say that upon
    the sword of the angel of death
    are three drops of poison. One
    of these drops causes the face
    of a deceased to begin turning
    green and decompose. When
    Avraham got up from Sarah’s
    face and saw that there were
    no signs of decomposition and
    discoloration, he knew that she
    did not die at the hands of the
    Satan. Rather, he knew she had
    died through misa b’nashika.
    Therefore, he was able to pursue
    his plan to bury her in the Meoras
    So now we have quite a paradox.
    On the one hand, Rashi says that
    the death of Sarah was recorded
    in the Torah in proximity to the
    Akeidas Yitzchak to inform
    us that it was the scare of the
    news of the Akeida that brought
    about her demise. Here we have
    established that she passed away
    from the kiss of Hashem. Which
    one is it?
    I would like to suggest the
    following possibility. The
    Panei-ach Raza (one of the early
    Rishonim) asks why the Satan
    was permitted to scare Sarah
    Imeinu. He answers that it was
    an element of midah k’neged
    midah, Hashem’s retribution
    measure for measure. When
    the three angels told Sarah that
    she would have a son, we know
    she laughed inwardly. Avraham
    subsequently questioned
    her about this, as it says,
    “Vat’chacheish Sarah
    – Sarah denied having
    laughed.” And therefore,
    says the Panei-ach Raza, for
    this lie she was punished:
    Satan was given license to lie
    to her about the Akeida, and
    to say that her only son had
    been slaughtered.
    The Gemora tells us that
    four groups of people will
    not be allowed to greet the
    Shechina. One of the four
    is the ‘kat hashakronim,’
    those who have said lies.
    We therefore understand that
    there was a problem when
    it came the time for Sarah
    Imeinu to leave the world
    – for she was to exit from
    the world through the very
    highest means, namely misa
    b’nashika. But, in its very
    definition, this would mean
    that she would be, ‘M’kabeil
    hapnei HaShechinah,’ she
    would be greeting the face of
    the Divine Presence. But the
    incident of ‘Vat’chacheish
    Sarah,’ where she denied
    having laughed, stood in the
    way of this. She therefore
    had to be cleansed from this
    episode – moments before her
    death – through the punishment
    of the shocking lie of the Satan.
    Then, having been purged of
    this indiscretion, she was able
    to leave the world through misa
    I believe it is for this reason
    that Rashi, in his Chumash
    commentary, does not tell us
    about the episode of the Satan
    scaring Sarah on the words
    “V’tamas Sarah – Sarah passed
    away.” Rather, he says this on
    the heading, “Lispod l’Sarah
    v’livkosah,” for it is not an
    explanation of how Sarah
    died, for she died through misa
    b’nashika and not from this
    Thus we see how careful we
    have to be in training ourselves
    never to veer from the truth. In
    the merit of our Torah study,
    may we be blessed with good
    health, happiness and everything