“And he lived.” That’s how this week’s Torah portion begins, but the verse ends with Jacob’s death.
The same thing happens at the beginning of the Torah portion when we’re told that Sarah died; it’s called “the life of Sarah.”
I love that the Torah reminds us that death is preceded by life. In both of their cases, it was preceded by a long life, a full life, a life filled with ups and downs, trials and tribulations, successes and failures.
Life is an uncertain undertaking at best. We can live it carefully, avoiding problems and incidents, staying away from trouble. But it doesn’t matter; problems and troubles arise. What matters is how we deal with them, how we choose to live our lives. In other words, although life is an essentially complicated process, we have the capacity to make it a joyous one.
One of the most amazing things about the human mind is that despite being aware of our mortality, we continue regardless. We know that we will die, but we hope that our stories will continue, just as Jacob’s and Sarah’s stories continue to move and inform us.
Beautifully, we simply can’t help ourselves. We live full of dreams, hopes and expectations, some of which will never be fulfilled. We know that we will die but while still healthy we choose to not dwell on it. And that, I think, allows us to indulge in being alive. And what a wonderful indulgence it is.