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    Sarah is the only one
    of our Matriarchs
    whose age at the time
    of her passing is
    documented in the
    Torah. We are
    explicitly told the age of each Patriarch at
    the time of their death, but only Sarah has
    this distinction among the Matriarchs.
    The Torah tells us at the beginning of the
    Parsha that she died at the age of 127.
    What is the significance of this distinction?
    Furthermore, the pasuk [verse]
    documenting Sarah’s age strikes us as
    being redundant: “Sarah’s lifetime was
    one hundred years, and twenty years, and
    seven years; the years of Sarah’s life.”
    [Bereishis 23:1] The next pasuk goes on
    to say that “Avraham came to mourn for
    Sarah and to cry for her.” According to
    ancient tradition, the letter chaf in the
    word Livkosa [to cry for her] is written
    small. The Baal HaTurim explains that the
    reason the letter is diminished in size is
    that since Sarah lived to such a ripe old

    age, Avraham Avinu minimized the
    amount of crying he did for her. According
    to the Baal HaTurim, it did not suffice for
    us to surmise on our own that since Sarah
    was 127 years old when she died, it was
    probably not such a tragic funeral that
    inspired a great deal of crying. For some
    reason, it was important for the Torah to
    explicitly make note of this fact (by use of
    the diminished letter chaf). Why is this so
    significant for us to know?
    The Nesivos Shalom (the Slonimer
    Rebbe) writes the following idea in his
    sefer. Every night we say in the Maariv
    prayer: “Remove the Satan from in front
    of us and from behind us”. It is obvious to
    all of us what the purpose of the “Satan in
    front of us” is. Many times, we are on the
    way to do something positive and we find
    it becomes very difficult to accomplish
    the task. This is due to the “Satan in front
    of us” who tries to prevent us from doing
    mitzvos. We do not have to search any
    further than last week’s parsha (Vayera)
    for an example. Chazal tell us that the

    Satan wanted to get in the way of
    Avraham Avinu and not let him
    accomplish the Akeidah [binding] of
    But what is the significance of the
    prayer to remove the “Satan from
    behind us”? How can there be a “Satan
    behind us” if the mitzvah has already
    been completed? The Nesivos Shalom
    explains that sometimes after we have
    already completed a mitzvah, or passed
    a nisayon [spiritual challenge] things
    don’t work out the way we thought they
    would and we begin to “second guess”
    our righteous acts. We wonder whether
    or not we did the right thing. The Satan
    never gives up. He may lose battle after
    battle, but he does not give up the war so
    I have heard more than once cases of
    highly successful individuals who
    originally were not observant and decided
    to become Baalei Teshuva and fully
    Sabbath observant and then subsequently
    their business tanked. It creeps up in
    people’s minds: Why is it that when
    the person was non-religious
    everything he touched turned to
    gold and now that he is religious,
    everything he touches turns to dust?
    What does the person think? What
    do the people around him think?
    This is the idea of “Remove Satan
    from behind us.” After the good
    deed is done, the Satan does not
    want you to be at peace with it.
    Even if the person was not
    contemplating going back to where
    he came from spiritually,
    nonetheless, it is no longer the same.
    It is with a regret and remorse that
    one decided to do the right thing and
    become religious.
    Our parshios, the Nesivos Shalom
    explains, contain a classic example
    of Avraham Avinu facing the Satan
    in front of him in Parshas Vayera
    and then confronting the Satan in
    back of him in Parshas Chayei
    Sarah. The Satan behind him is, as
    Rashi says (based on the Medrash),
    that Sarah died suddenly out of the
    shock of hearing that her son
    Yitzchak was almost slaughtered.
    This scenario was an act of the
    Satan. Sarah was supposed to die in
    any event, no matter what happened.
    But the Satan arranged that someone
    would come to her door and tell her

    about the Akeida and just at that moment,
    she would die. Everyone, including
    Avraham, could come to the false
    conclusion and say “This is what I get for
    the Akeida?”
    The Satan knows that she would have
    died at that time regardless of whether or
    not the Akeida took place. It was not the
    news of the Akeida that killed her, it was
    G-d’s having said that these are the days
    of her years. Her time was up. That is
    why, says the Slonimer Rebbe, the Torah
    writes “one hundred years and twenty
    years and seven years.” This is why the
    Torah spells out the age of her death – so
    that we should not for a minute think that
    she died prematurely because of the
    Akeidah. That is why the Torah reiterates
    “the years of the life of Sarah”. When
    Sarah was born, she was given a certain
    amount of years and a certain amount of
    days and on a specific day and in a specific
    place and a specific time she was destined
    to die.
    Many times there’s an elderly parent
    living with one child and then they decide
    to move the parent to another child and
    then the parent dies. There are typically
    all sorts of guilty feelings. ‘If this, if that’,
    etc. No! Everyone has their time and place
    where they are going to die.
    This is the way it was with Sarah. No one
    appreciated this more than Avraham
    Avinu. That is why the word Livkosa [to
    cry for her] has a small chaf. There was
    not a tremendous amount of crying
    because this was not the case of a tragic
    sudden unexpected death, which causes
    people to cry. The Torah wants to record
    for us that the crying was muted, because
    it was part of the natural life cycle destined
    for Sarah to die at this ripe old age of 127.
    This teaches us that we must always be
    on guard, not only for the Satan in front of
    us, but for the Satan behind us as well.