Sarah Empowers Her Descendents

The Midrash states, "All that occurred to our Patriarchs is a sign for their descendents." [Tanchuma 9] The intention of the term "sign" is not merely "instruction". Rather it means the granting of the ability to accomplish the task. The Talmud uses the expression "The Sage opened his remarks", meaning that the Sage opened and defined a way for his students. In doing so, he provided the power and ability to each and everyone one of his students to accomplish the spiritual charge at hand. As the way is already accessible, great toil is unnecessary.

If this principle applies to a Sage from the Talmud, it obviously also applies to the Patriarchs. They are, after all, the parents of every Jew. Their life experiences and divine service are drawn down as an inheritance to all of the Jewish people throughout time.

Divine service is complete only when accomplished with joy….

The Matriarchs perform this function as well. This is especially true with our mother Sarah, the first of the Matriarchs. The Torah tells us, via Abraham, "Listen to the voice of Sarah in all that she may say." [Gen. 21:12] Her actions instruct and enable the divine service of all Jews.

Perfection of the World

It is a Torah principle to serve G‑d with joy. Divine service is complete only when accomplished with joy. This causes the perfection of the world.

Our Sages write, "The Creation was for the sake of Israel and the Torah." [Midrash Tanchuma on Proverbs 8:22, and Jeremiah 2:3] The intention of "for the sake of Israel" is for the sake of the Jew's divine service. Through their divine service, Israel causes the Creation to reach perfection.

Two questions can be raised: The Midrash says the world was initially created in a state of perfection. The nature of good, a major characteristic of the Divine, is to bestow goodness on others; therefore G‑d created a world to be kind to. If perfect Goodness is the source of Creation, it follows that what was created is also perfect.

If so, why did G‑d create the world "for the sake of Israel and the Torah"? The answer is because it is specifically through Israel that consummate good is granted to all Creation. When Jews perform their divine service, perfection is increased in the world. And this completeness is of a much higher level than the perfection which existed when the world was originally created.

The perfection of divine service is when it is performed with joy. It follows that it is specifically this joy in serving G‑d which increases the perfection of the world.

This commandment of serving G‑d with joy isn't optional. A person has an obligation to serve G‑d with joy. This is because service with joy is the only way the revelation of G‑d's light is drawn down into the world.

Joy with Fear

Fear and joy must complement each other….

The Psalms instruct us to serve G‑d with fear, joy and awe. Fear and joy must complement each other. Joy when experienced as a feeling in of itself can produce all sorts of negative things. Through fear of heaven, joy isn't tainted. Fear insures that joy becomes a joy of humility and nullification.

Being that joy is caused by one's humility, the joy itself "doesn't exist", so to speak. The joy is truly G‑d's alone, for there is no "other". This, then, is the meaning of service with joy - the joy of the commandments.

The Future Revelation

By serving G‑d now with joy, we cause the Future Redemption. Then the dead will rise and "live before G‑d on the third day". [Hoshea 6:2] The "first day" refers to the "limited" spiritual light animating Creation. The "second day" refers to the "unlimited" transcendent light revealed in miracles. The "third day" represents a level above both limitation and infinity. It is beyond any conditions, even higher than infinity.

Joy breaks all boundaries. Through our service with joy we reach a state which is above all limitation. This joy is the preparation and vessel for the revelation of "the third day". The revelation will take place in the Third Temple, which King Mashiach will build. The dead will rise and together will the leaders of our generations greet King Mashiach in Jerusalem. And then we will rejoice in everlasting joy.


Translated and adapted by David Rothschild from a discourse by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, parashat Chayei Sara 5748 (1988). This discourse elaborates a discourse by Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneerson 5679 (1918)

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