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The Good Years Are Here

By: Rabbi Yitzchak Lerner

"The life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah."

Rashi is bothered by the repetition in the second part of the pasuk. Why does the Torah have to restate, "These were the years of the life of Sarah?" Rashi explains that the Torah is hinting that all of her years were equally good.

The Sfas Emes, the original Gerrer Rebbe, asks how all of her years could have been equally good how can one compare the ninety-nine years of being barren to the year that she finally gave birth? How can one say that leaving Israel to go to Egypt and having to travel in a box lest her husband be killed was as good as living in tranquility in Israel for many years?

I think that what Rashi teaches us when he says that the years were all equally good may be an application of the famous saying of our Rabbis, "Gam zu le-tovah." Hashem always has our best interests in mind, even if we don't always understand His master plan. The question is how we relate to the events that happen in our lives: Can we accept them and still be able to say "Gam zu le-tovah"?

People often make the mistake of thinking that to serve Hashem with simchah (joy) means to serve Hashem with a smile on your face. That is not the deeper meaning of simchah. While it is true that there are, thank G-d, many occasions on which we smile, when a person is sitting shivah, for example, he or she is supposed to be sad; one is meant at such times to be crying. Yet, one is still supposed to be be-simchah. Not every event in our lives evokes a smile, but simchah is not an emotion; rather, it is a mind-set. Everything that is happening to me is being done by Hashem to help me grow, and I must work on accepting "Gam zu le-tovah."

This is how Sarah Imenu was able to say that all of the years of her life were equally good. She was able to realize that everything that happened to her came from Hashem, and so she accepted each event and grew from it. May we all follow her example. Good Shabbos!

R. Yitz Lerner




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