Chayei Sarah: Chapter 11

"And Sarah died in Kiryat Arba"


Here the Zohar explores the ways in which people's lives determine the quality and nature of their death. The rabbis also resume a discussion of Sarah's uniqueness among women, now comparing her with Miriam, whose age is not mentioned in scripture. Associated with water, Miriam's death is emblematic of the ancient sins of the children of Yisrael. They, it is explained, owe their happiness and stability solely to the Torah - which is a gift of the Holy One, intended to reveal the true nature and purpose of His creation. Rabbi Yehuda goes on to make an analogy between the effect of a weak king on his kingdom and that of an unrighteous man on his own life. The exploration finally circles back on itself with the assertion that death has no power over someone as pure as Sarah, who died in the place where David was united with the patriarchs. This spiritual locale is the point at which the physical world joins with the spiritual. David represents our material realm, known as Malchut, while the patriarchs signify the spiritual domain. Bridging these two worlds exemplifies the concept of perfection. In this way, the righteousness of the individual soul, the righteousness of the ruler and his people, and the holiness of the land itself, are shown to be one and the same. We learn that as long as a man's soul is nurtured by the Light - which is portrayed here as filtering through the seven lower Sfirot - both his life and his death will remain in harmony with the divine, for a righteous existence alone spares us defilement by the Angel of Death.


In practical terms, the Upper World, or the patriarchs, refers to our soul and the Desire to Share. Our physical world of Malchut or David, refers to our material body and the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. Our ultimate objective in life is to balance and conjoin these two worlds, creating a new dynamic, known in lay terms as the Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing. When we receive for the sake of imparting to others, we achieve perfect harmony with the sharing nature of the Creator. This assures a life and an afterlife filled with Light. Both the Torah and the Zohar serve to gradually sweeten the trait of receiving for the self into receiving for the purpose of sharing. Here, the Zohar invokes the 'energy of Sarah' to help achieve this effect, strengthening our resolve whenever the temptation to satisfy our own desires arises.