“And the life of Sarah was a hundred years and twenty years and seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.” – Genesis 23:1, JPS embellished.
The previous parashas concludes with the narrative of the Akeidah – the binding of Isaac. This was Abraham’s tenth and final test of emunah (faith) in H’Shem. Moreover, it was also a test for Isaac, inasmuch that he was able to go willingly, with his father, Abraham, even upon realizing that he was intended as the offering. Afterwards, having been spared, when the Angel of H’Shem called to Abraham, saying not to harm his son, a ram was offered up instead of Isaac.
Targum Yonasan claims that Sarah passed away thinking that her son Isaac actually died as an offering on Mt. Moriah. Other commentaries explain that she took her last breath, in gratitude, in acknowledgment that her son was able to accede to H’Shem’s will for him, by offering up his own life. This rendering denotes the importance of accepting G-d’s will.
Interestingly, even though this parashas begins with the narrative of Abraham purchasing a burial plot for Sarah, the actual parashas is entitled Chayei Sarah (the Life of Sarah). How can this be explained? The word in Hebrew for life is chayei, as in vayihyu chayei sarah the life of Sarah was. According to R. Bachya, the word vayichyu implies “that something exists permanently,” this points towards the understanding that Sarah’s soul would “take up permanent residence in the celestial regions” (R. Bachya, commentary on Genesis 23:1, sefaria.org). This is the positive note of the entirety of Sarah’s life, i.e., that her soul lives on, rewarded with a place in Olam Haba.
“This world is like a corridor before Olam Haba (the World-to-Come). Prepare yourself in the corridor, so that you may enter the Banquet Hall.”
– Pirkei Avos 4:21