Soro’s lifetime was a hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years – the years of Soro’s life.
“Hashem knows the days of the perfect.” A midrash attaches this pasuk to Soro, “who was perfect in her deeds.” Chazal find some quality they term “perfection” in Soro’s behavior, in the midst of a Chumash that records wondrous deeds in the lives of the Avos. What do they mean by this?
We needn’t look too far to find examples of what this substance is elsewhere in Bereishis. Apparently, while this element of perfection shows up in the activities of other Avos and Imahos, Soro displayed it repeatedly and consistently.
Here are the examples:
The description of Avraham Avinu’s hachnasas orchim is slowly related in great detail, from the beginning of parshas Vayeira, until Avraham accompanies them on the road when sending them off. The details all boil down to Avraham’s determination to shower beneficence upon others. Taken together, they form one, large act of giving. His determination to give powered all the smaller actions that we learn about in the narrative: he calls his very ordinary visitors, “my master;” he picks the items for a lavish repast; he oversees its quick preparation. And more. They should not be seen as distinct and discontinuous. Rather, they are necessary parts of performing his giving in a perfect manner.
Even Avraham’s servant does this. The long story about Eliezer’s mission can be summarized as the work of a loyal, trusted servant to fulfil his agency – perfectly. The details – his refusal to eat before he had made his proposal; his insistence on setting off with Rivka without delay; others – all were products of incorporating the quality of perfection into his primary concern.
Rivka herself had acted magnanimously to a stranger, tired and thirsty after a long journey. She would have been applauded for her chesed even if she hadn’t included the grace notes. She rushed. She drew the water herself, not entrusting the job to a servant. She watered the camels as well. Those extra touches were driven by Rivka’s insistence on perfection in performing a mitzvah.
From where does all this insistence on perfection come? A phrase used several times in our parshah directs us to the source: chesed v’emes. Chesed is valuable in any measure that it comes. It does not have to be full, complete, or perfect. On the other hand, the midah of emes does. It demands that what is done should be done true to its truest form. It should be full, complete, perfect. It cannot tolerate actions that are truncated or pockmarked here and there.
The certain indicator that our deeds are related to a midah of emes is that they are perfectly formed in all their dimensions. Oftentimes, we cannot lay claim to this. Some of our actions have no beginning. Others never make it to completion. Still others are born in the middle, and remain permanently frozen there. There are loose ends and hanging threads in the fabric of our actions.
Why does this happen? It is the sheker within us that does not allow perfection!
- Based upon Daas Torah on the Torah, of Rav Yeruchem Levovitz pgs. 150-151 ↑
- Bereishis 23:1 ↑
- Tehillim 37:18 ↑
- Bereishis Rabbah58:1 ↑