Rabbi Akiva was once giving a shiur when he noticed his students were struggling to stay awake (some things never change!). In order to re-engage and revitalise them, he asked his students a question:
Why did Queen Esther merit to rule over 127 kingdoms?
Rabbi Akiva answered that it was because Sarah Imeinu lived for 127 years.
So says the Midrash at the beginning of this week’s sedrah. The Midrash is clearly puzzling. What do Sarah’s 127 years have to do with the number of kingdoms Queen Esther ruled over?
The Chiddushei Harim gives a wonderful explanation. Rabbi Akiva was trying to teach his students the importance of time.
Imagine, said Rabbi Akiva, if each year of your life was like a whole country. A month would be like a huge city. A week like a big town. A day like a large village. An hour like a whole street. And a minute like a house. If we truly appreciated that we were being rewarded with vast wealth for every moment of serving Hashem, we wouldn’t waste time.
Rabbi Akiva therefore used a comparison of material value to convey to his talmidim the tragedy of wasting time. Sarah’s 127 years were lived to the full and every moment reaped eternal benefit.
In a way, the objective of the successful vaccination programmes at both schools, is to try to help as many students as possible stay in school, be educated and inspired, and use their time fully and productively.
Thank you to everyone involved in this project.
Wishing everyone good health as well as happy and productive use of their time.
Rabbi J Golker