The opening pasuk of our sedra notes that Sarah Imeinu was 127 years old when she died. Now there’s another appearance of the number 127 in Tanach. The Megillah tells us that Achashveirosh ruled over 127 countries; and (unsurprisingly) there is a link between these two appearances of the number 127. Chazal tell us that Rabbi Akiva was once giving a shiur, and several students were dozing off (this seems to be an old minhag!). Rabbi Akiva remarked ‘in the merit of Sarah Imeinu’s 127 years, the Jewish People in the 127 countries in the Purim story were saved.’ Suddenly, the students stopped dozing off and began fully concentrating on the shiur. Why; what changed? The explanation I heard was that Rabbi Akiva’s words caused the students to realise the value of time. How? For Sarah’s spiritually wholesome 127 years saving 127 countries meant that each year that Sarah used productively to perform mitzvos saw another country saved. So each month meant another town saved, each week a neighbourhood saved, each day a block, each minute a road, and each second a family (etc.). Thus, the students of Rabbi Akiva realised the importance of making use of every second of their time; using it for constructive purposes. As Rav Sheinberg stressed, when David HaMelech said ‘who is the man who desires life? One who loves days to do good’ he was referring to someone who realises the value of time and the importance of making the most of all the time he has available to him in this world. Rabbi Akiva Eiger was away from home for a Rabbis conference, when he walked past a coffee shop and saw many people sitting on table sluggishly drinking their coffees. Asking the people what they were doing, they replied ‘we’re killing time.’ Rabbi Eiger was shocked; ‘killing time,’ he shrieked, ‘why don’t you give some time to me - I wish I had more time!’ Such is the attitude of someone who realises the value of time.
We are only here in this world temporarily; let’s use all the time we have