Acurious fact1 about the Torah is that the names of the Sedras are a later addition. Because we believe in Hashgochah Protis (Divine Providence), and since these names are accepted by Am Yisrael , we treat the names with the same reverence as the rest of Torah. But this is not the whole story. The names actually contain the spiritual essence of every Sedra.

Understanding this,2 how can a Sedra which begins with her death, be called “The life of Sarah?” The Rebbe takes us into the hidden side of Torah to find out, and the answer is so intense, it casts its light over this whole week for every Jew.

First, part of the story. As every reader will know, upon Sarah’s death Avraham is put to considerable expense and difficulty buying her a specific burial place.

The Sedra then deals with one of the world’s great gentiles, Avraham’s servant, Eliezer. Eliezer is sent by Avraham to find a wife for Avraham’s second son Yitzchok, the only son borne by Sarah. He is in fact miraculously successful and brings back Rivka who marries Yitzchok.

Finally, the Sedra finishes with the fact that after Sarah’s death, Avraham remarries Hagar, the mother of Yishmael who is now called Keturah.

Now, why is the Sedra called Chaye Sarah if all of these episodes happened after her death?

The Rebbe explains that one aspect of the fact that the Torah is eternal and applicable to every Jew in every generation is that it particularizes the difference between the whole of humanity and its little subgroup of Jews. This is really the first time in the Torah when there begins the separation of the destiny of Am Yisrael against the destiny of the rest of mankind.

There is a Gemara3 which says Yaacov did not die. The simple meaning of this, explains the Gemara is that, being that he was the father of twelve tribes of Israel, he lives in the descendants of our nation.

The same notion applies to Sarah. Being that Sarah was one of the greatest tzidkoniois , although she had died physically by the time this parshah begins, the Sedra is named Chaye Sarah , because she lives on as particularized by the stories in the Sedra as we shall see.

Sarah as mother of Am Yisrael has given birth to a unique nation. No other nation on this globe has been sustained through the period of time we have. All this without an army, without a country of our own, without a numerical equality and without political penetration. The odds against this happening are simply ridiculous. Some 3 to 24 million people at various times in our history have been sustained against a world population which at the time of writing is about 5 billion people. The percentage is staggeringly minute and the odds against survival, negligible. The Sedra is called Chaye Sarah because we are identifying the seeding of this indestructibility and everlastingness as well as the uniqueness of Am Yisrael.

This concept of Sarah’s continuation is expressed specifically and mainly in the three stories mentioned as we shall see.

Every Jew for his own path to happiness needs to appreciate that there is a fundamental difference between Avraham and Sarah and their heritage to us. Avraham was the father of both Yitzchok and Yishmael, of both Jew and Arab. Avraham was absolutely even-handed in his spreading of the notion of G‑dliness in the world, spread without any discriminatory thought of Am Yisrael. This is witnessed by the story of the three malochim (angels) who appeared to Avraham. He offered them to eat, believing them to be Bedouins. Avraham was in the business of dealing with everybody on an equal plane and bringing G‑dliness in the world in a non-discriminatory manner.

This was not true of Sarah, Sarah was the absolute opposite polarization of that concept. She was totally particular with whom she dealt and to whom she spread G‑dliness. She would only do so to a fit vessel, which was perceived by her to be a receptacle appropriate for G‑dliness. When Hagar and Yishmael began to misbehave she sent them away.4 Sarah required that the place she occupied be separate and for G‑d, with those who occupied it, fit for the task. So it was that Avraham needed to be so particular with the place of her burial and choice of wives for Yitzchok.

Extending this concept, we see that two of the fascinating currents in each Jew’s life are the currents of Avraham and of Sarah. On the one hand we Jews have a capacity to deal with each other indiscriminately with mutual recognition and an in-built support system for each other;5 on the other hand, a Jew’s obligations are totally discriminatory against a non-Jew’s obligations.6 Our job is connected with kedushah (holiness) a Gentile’s task is associated with building the world (a preciously important activity).7 Our task is with Elokus , with G‑dliness, and in order that Elokus be revealed, our people are required to be kodesh (holy), and the places we occupy must be kodesh. Avraham argued for the cave because it was to be the grave of Adam and Chava, (Adam and Eve), of Avraham and Sarah, of Yitzchok and Rivka and of Yaacov and Leah, leading directly into Am Yisrael.

Avraham, also the father of Yishmael, was indiscriminate with his activities. The three angels who appeared to him, remember, he thought were Arabs. He was particular to purchase the cave and particular about the choice of wife for Sarah’s sake not his. Sarah’s specificness is critical for Am Yisrael’s task for Torah and mitzvos.

Eliezer who learned Torah with Yitzchok, was not only Avraham’s servant, but steeped in Torah and mitzvos. He was a deeply holy and outstanding person, for whom HaShem worked miracles. Nevertheless, his daughter was not acceptable as a match for Yitzchok according to the wishes of Sarah.

Finally in the third story when Avraham remarries, he remarries Hagar the woman Sarah had rejected from their home. She bears him more children, but as far as inheritance goes, only Yitzchok is the recipient. Why? Explains the Rebbe, the inheritance is not an accumulation of physical baubles; Yitzchok was being steadied for the sacred task of giving birth to the Father of Israel, Yaacov. To Yitzchok, Avraham was passing on ruchnius (spirituality). Am Yisrael is special, separate and with a different job to do. The rest of humanity is separate, different and with a separate job to do. The function of Am Yisrael in life is entirely different, and our perspective entirely different. The life of Am Yisrael commences with the life of Sarah — a particular way of life that Sarah required and is required of us now. A Jew must come in contact with kedushah, and bring that holiness into physicality into an environment specially cleansed and prepared for the purpose. Avraham on the other hand, even handed to the last, remarried the mother of all Arabs. G‑dliness in general belongs to all men; but the priests of the world must be Am Yisrael.

This week emphasizes Sarah’s wisdom for all Jews. This week accentuates the fallacy in the argument that, because all people are equally valuable and because we are all G‑d’s creatures, therefore, Jews are no different from non-Jews and must live the same way. Here is a fundamental critical mistake. The moment a Jew begins to do so, he becomes unfulfilled and frustrated, not understanding why he cannot live the same life as a Gentile.

On the other hand, he cannot be discriminatory with physical things; he must share his money, power and wisdom and be a light to the nations. We are Avraham in relation to the physical, even-handed and non-discriminatory.8 In relation to spiritual matters however, our absolute life blood requires that we must be zealous with our differences. This is the week we see, feel and live the chance to highlight that very difference — the life of Sarah — our very life.