The name of this week’s Torah portion is Chayei Sarah , “Life of Sarah.” This seems a strange title for a portion that tells of Sarah’s demise and events connected with her passing.

The Torah portion speaks of three things: a) Avraham’s purchase of the Me’aras HaMachpeilah and Sarah’s internment there; b) Yitzchak’s marriage; and c) Avraham’s taking Keturah as his wife.

All these events are related to Sarah’s passing:

Avraham purchased the Me’aras HaMachpeilah after Sarah’s death so that she could be buried there; he made no effort to purchase the cave while his wife was alive.

Yitzchak’s marriage came about as a result of the Akeidah , for it was then that Avraham realized that had anything untoward happened to the lad, he would have passed on without children.1 And it was the Akeidah that precipitated Sarah’s passing.2 Avraham’s marriage to Keturah was also connected to Sarah’s demise.

Moreover, even the first verse of the portion — “Sarah lived 127 years…” — relates to her passing, as the years of one’s life are counted after one has passed on.

Since all the events in the Torah portion are related to Sarah’s demise, why is it titled “Chayei Sarah ,” “Life of Sarah”?

In Iggeres HaKodesh,3 the Alter Rebbe quotes the Zohar :4 “When a tzaddik departs from the world, he is to be found in all worlds more than in his lifetime.” He explains that the life of a truly righteous individual is a life of the spirit; filled with faith, awe and love of G‑d. These three aspects are to be found to an even greater degree after a tzaddik ’s demise, since the limitations of the physical are then lifted.

The three events that highlight this Torah portion thus reflect its title, since they allude to aspects of Sarah’s service that reached their culmination only after her departure:

The Gemara5 notes that a man brings only raw food into the house; it is his wife who transforms it into tasty meals. Thus the wife is called the “mainstay of the house,” for she refines that which her husband brings home.

The same was so with regard to Avraham and Sarah. Avraham was removed from worldly matters, for which reason he felt that it would be possible for Yishmael to be his heir — he saw Yishmael’s potential rather than his actual state.6 It was Sarah who saw Yishmael for what he truly was. She was also able to convince Avraham that Yitzchak become his rightful heir.7

So too, the three events described in the Torah portion came about through the influence of Sarah and constituted her true life:

Although Avraham had the ability to use physicality for the sake of G‑dliness, he limited his interaction with the physical either to that which was actually part of himself — the commandment of milah — or that which belonged to him. Through Sarah, however, sanctity was brought into a portion of the world that was external to her — it was because of Sarah that Avraham purchased (and thereby elevated8) the Me’aras HaMachpeilah.

The second tale in the Torah portion, that of Yitzchak’s marriage, is also connected to Sarah, for it was she who convinced Avraham that Yishmael could not be his heir. In order for Yitzchak to be considered the Patriarch’s rightful heir, it was of course necessary that he marry and have children.

Moreover, while Avraham fathered Yishmael, and had children from Keturah as well, Sarah had only Yitzchak. She therefore felt the need for Yitzchak to marry and carry on the lineage more acutely.

So too with regard to Avraham’s marriage to Keturah and his fathering of children with her. It was because of Sarah that “Avraham gave all that he had to Yitzchak,”9 while to the other children “he gave presents and sent them away from his son Yitzchak.”10

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. V, pp. 338-342.