ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים
"And the lives of Sarah were one hundred years and twenty years and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah"
Rashi writes, in the name of the Midrash in Rabbah, that each unit of numbers is explained לעצמו, on its own. When she was one hundred, Sarah was as a 20 year old regarding sin. Hashem does not punish until one becomes twenty years old. When she was twenty, she was like a seven year old regarding beauty.
The word לעצמו, however, also means "for himself." It is possible that the Torah is praising Sarah through Avraham Avinu's perspective. The Gemara in Yevamot (63a) teaches the two main missions a wife assumes. מגדלות את בנינו ומצילות אותנו מן החטא, "she raises our children and saves us from sin". In order for one to truly raise a child in a spiritually elated manner, one must be a living example. Sarah only became a mother at the age of ninety. Therefore, the Torah teaches us that at the age of one hundred, she was like a 20 year old regarding sin. That enabled her to raise Yishak in the ways of Hashem!
Additionally, we can now understand the latter part of the Midrash. What significance does beauty have in Torah? The Passuk in Mishle teaches about the vanity in beauty. We can therefore say Sarah's beauty helped Avraham not sin. Although Avraham Avinu may not have needed the "help", the Torah is teaching that her beauty was indeed a virtue! A great wife indeed!
The Maharal of Prague teaches that the beauty listed in our Parasha is not speaking of her physical looks, rather that she had all of her limbs fully in tact. One generally loses bodily functionality as he ages. Sarah Imenu, however, died with all of her body fully functioning. This is a sign of her spiritual greatness and truly a praise, even through the eyes of the Torah!
The Baal Haturim writes that the word ויהיו has the the numerical value of 37, the age of Yishak when Sarah Imenu passed away. The main years of her life were ויהיו. We must try to understand the intent of the Baal Haturim.
The Gemara in Nedarim (64b) teaches that there are four people who are considered dead, although they are still living. One who is blind, poor, afflicted with צרעת, and childless. Since Sarah was childless for 90 years, those years were not considered life! ויהיו חיי שרה, these 37 were the life of Sarah!
Rabbi Eliezer Zeytouneh is the Rav of Congregation Bnei Shelomo located at 1305 Gravesend Neck Rd. He is also the Principal of Yeshivat Or Hatorah and the Dean of Peninim Sephardic Seminary. His Shiurim are attended by young adults of all backgrounds and can be heard on LearnTorah.com and Kol Halashon.