Parshas Chayei Sarah: The True Impact of Time
In this week’s Parsha, Chayei Sarah, it writes that וְאַבְרָהָ֣ם זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים – Avraham was old and he was coming along in his days. The Radak explains that coming along in his days means that not only was Avraham old, but he also sensed he did not have much time left before he passed. The Sfas Emes gives an alternative beautiful explanation. He says that בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים does not mean coming along in his days but rather that he came with his days which teaches us that Avraham was proactive and did not push off events for later. Instead, he made every day special. The Sfas Emes brings down the analogy for this that if a man learns when he is young, it is like writing on a brand new sheet of parchment; however, if an older person learns, it is like writing on a crumpled and smudged piece of used parchment. What does this mean though? How can two people learn but one is smudged and the other is clean? He explains that the learning is young and old at heart. If we learn with a young man’s enthusiasm, we will learn well. On the other hand, if chas veshalom we learn with an old heart and procrastinate with other matters on our mind, we will not learn nearly as much and be crumpled and smudged like the worn parchment! A Gemara in Shabbos further points this out. It writes that after the times of Yehoshua, Bnei Yisrael had אריכת שנים, many years, but not אריכת ימים, many days. What does this mean though? Either phrase means long life? Rather the Gemara teaches us that Bnei Yisrael had many years, however they did nothing special and wasted their days in their sorrow. They lived long lives, but they were lazy and did not learn Torah. It is not up to us to determine if we live with אריכת שנים, that is up to Hashem, but it is up to us to decide whether we live אריכת ימים like Avraham Avinu and be proactive, or not. May we all live like Avraham and be אריכת ימים and make all of our days special! Good Shabbos!
Zack Pollack (’22) is a Staff Writer for The Valley Torah Scroll.