"What is the name of this week's parshah
Yaffah asked her fifth-grade class.
"Chayei Sarah," answered many voices together.
"That means 'the life of Sarah,'" continued Morah Yaffah. "This parshah describes three things that happened after Sarah Imeinu passed away."
"But Morah," Peninah called out. "If the parshah tells us things that happened after Sarah died, why is it called Chayei Sarah - the life of Sarah?"
"That's a very good question," said Morah Yaffah. "That is just what we are going to be learning today. Our Rabbis teach us that tzaddikim are described as being 'alive' even after they pass away. Let's try to understand what this means."
Chani raised her hand. "Morah, I'm not sure if this is a good example, but I think I understand. You see, my mother's grandmother was a very special woman. My mother says she was a real tzadeikes. I never met her; she died before I was born. But somehow I feel like I know her. My mother always talks about her. She always says - 'Bubbe used to do this,' 'Bubbe used to say that,' 'Bubbe would do it this way.' In our family, we do a lot of things the way Bubbe used to do them. It's as if everything about her is still with us today."
"Thank you for sharing that with us, Chani," replied Morah Yaffah. "It is a good example. Now let's think about the three episodes in Chayei Sarah."
"The first story is about Avraham buying Meoras HaMachpeilah to bury Sarah," said Brachi, "And the second is about Yitzchak marrying Rivkah."
Morah Yaffah nodded. "And at the end of the parshah, we read that Avraham married Keturah and they had many children. But later, when Avraham divided his belongings among his children, he only gave gifts to Keturah's children and sent them away. It was Yitzchak who inherited everything Avraham had.
"Now as we think of Chayei Sarah - the life of Sarah - we can see how the episodes in this parshah tell us about the things which Sarah strived for in her life. These are the things she talked about; these are the things she worked for.
"Sarah knew that HaShem chose Yitzchak to inherit all the spiritual strengths of Avraham, his possessions and the right to the land of Eretz Yisrael.
"Meoras HaMachpeilah was the first piece of land a Jew ever actually bought and owned in Eretz Yisrael. This came about because of Sarah's death, but it was exactly what she lived for. She wanted Eretz Yisrael to become the Jewish people's land.
"When Yitzchak married Rivkah, he saw three miracles: A cloud of glory hovered over their tent, her Shabbos candles burned all week, and there was a blessing in the bread she made. These same miracles had taken place in Sarah's lifetime. Yitzchak saw that Rivkah, his wife, would carry on his mother's life work.
"And when Avraham sent away Keturah's children, it was because of Sarah's wish that Yitzchak and his family should not be influenced or bothered by them. Many years before, Sarah had told him: 'Send away this maidservant and her son.' Later, even Yishmael did teshuvah, and showed that he understood that Sarah was right and only Yitzchak should inherit Avraham's blessings."
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, Parshas Chayei Sarah)