In the ‘50s there was a hit TV series “I Led Three Lives.” Our Torah Portion this week, Hayyai Sarah, assumes we live at least two lives. At least Sarah did.
We are told that Sarah’s lifetime came to 127 years at the time of her death, but the Hebrew suggests two meanings. “Sh’nay hayyai Sarah” can be translated as either “The years of Sarah,” or, “The two lives of Sarah.” (Shanim are years, but shnei can also be 2.)
A midrash tells us that after Sarah heard that Abraham almost sacrificed their son, Isaac, her heart stopped. God revived her, but she lived a different life after that.
How would we divide our lives? How many “before and afters” have we experienced? Before and after the birth of our child? Before and after marriage? Before and after surgery, or a heart attack? Or the death of a loved one?
And has the second life built on the first? Improved upon it?
Or could we be living concurrently two lives? As an American and a Jew? As a husband and a father? As a student and a family member? As a businessman and a family man?
And is it a constant juggling act to live two lives at the same time?
Or could the two lives be before and after an organ transplantation?
When we leave a directive that our organs should be harvested after death to keep others alive, we continue to live a second life. And the recipients of our organs that sustain their lives will not only live two lives, but their families will, as well.
-Rabbi David Vorspan, Rabbi-in-Residence