What is a whole year? Every year, when we read the parsha of Chayei Sarah, I review the Rashi about the years of Sarah’s life.
The pshat is clear, she was pure and innocent and beautiful in her old age. She is not only the matriarch, but also the archetype, for all Jewish women. Not only that, but for the Ger, she is their mother, so there’s even more of a direct connection to her attributes.
However, there’s a Medrash about this that quotes a pasuk in Tehillim in connection to the discussion of Sarah’s years:
The Bobover Ruv comments on this, “what do we understand whole years to mean?” It’s an excellent question. What is a whole year as opposed to a partial year? Does that mean that ideally one’s birthday is also their yahrtzeit? It’s reasonable to think this as we consider the tzaddikim that share this quality.
Yet, that’s not where the Ruv takes this. He brings up the idea of incomplete days or years, and that generally people don’t want days of stress, days of struggle, and days of paint to be counted in their years. We erase them, overlook them, and omit them from our narrative.
This is a clear difference from us common folk and the tzaddikim. The tzaddikim have mastered emunah and recognize that only good comes from HaShem. For the tzaddikim, there is no such thing as a bad day, because as the Ruv points out, Nachum Ish Gam Zu always exclaimed “gam zu li’tova,” this too is for the good. If it’s all for the good, then there are truly no bad days, and we just lack the clarity and perspective to grasp this.
The Kedushas Zion brings an amazing lesson that connects to this. The laws of tzaraas required one to go to the Kohen if he suspected his home contracted this spiritual malady. One would think this to be a bad thing. The Kedushas Zion brings a Rashi on the pasuk about how it was actually good news. The Emorites hid their treasures in the walls of the their homes to hide them from the yidden before Klal Yisroel arrived. Thus, the tzaraas would be diagnosed and the owner would have to destroy the wall, discovering the treasures. HaShem used this as a lesson that no matter the trial, everything that comes from above is only for the good.
We see in creation that HaShem gives us every exact detail for a particular purpose. I’d like to posit that this is a great lesson we can learn from a geode. The outside may be dirty, aged, and unassuming, but the inside of it is truly a spectacle to behold. So too we must recognize our own perspectives on HaShem’s gifts to us. It may not look good, but that’s because we’re only looking at the surface, and not what’s beyond our awareness.
This is an amazing lesson in Emunah. Nothing bad comes from Above. All brachos, all tzuris, all are for the good. We just need the right perspective to see it.
Sarah’s years were recorded as wholesome. She was holding. And just Sarah is a blueprint for the Jewish women, so too Avraham is a blueprint for the Jewish male, and his years were recorded in a similar fashion. Even though Yaakov would later describe his years as full of strife, we have an amazing heritage we can tap into – to recognize that every year is whole, even if we lack the insight at the moment.
May we all be zoche to see our years are whole, and live with a perspective of Emunah, no matter what lies ahead of us.