Sunday, November 07, 2004

Chayei Sarah

“The Life of Sarah” is an ironic name for a parsha/sedra (weekly Torah-reading portion) that begins with her death. So what was her life like? Well, she was married to her half-brother, Avraham, who twice asked her to lie about their marital status out of fear for his life. She was a barren woman who lived to regret giving her servant to her husband as the first surrogate mother on record (to the best of my knowledge). She was chastised by G-d for laughing when He told her husband that they’d have a child in her old age, though her husband had also laughed at a previous such prediction and gotten away with it (see Parshat Lech Lecha/ Genesis, chapter 8, verse 17). Later, when she’d had enough of Hagar’s son Yishmael/Ishmael’s mockery of her own son Yitzchak/Isaac, she had them expelled from their home. But Hagar got the last laugh—midrash (rabbinic legend/interpretation) tells us that Sarah died of a broken heart when she found out that Avraham had taken Yitzchak, her only child, to be sacrificed.


Blogger Talmida said...

Marek Halter puts a bit of a happier spin on it in his novel, Sarah.

Sun Nov 07, 09:59:00 PM 2004  
Blogger Noam S said...

Do you have a conclusion regarding Sarah's life? I am trying to line up a few sources, may take a few days. However, claiming that one's wife is actually one's sister implies that their destinies are different. You stick with your wife(hopefully), not with your sister, who goes off, gets married to some other guy, and has a different destiny. This is a problem. On the other hand, the midrash says the tents Abraham were blessed on account of Sarah, the Shabbat lights, etc

Tue Nov 09, 03:14:00 PM 2004  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I guess I feel that Sarah, as the Torah text portrays her, got a raw deal. Her husband's afraid to admit that she's his wife, her efforts to provide an heir through a surrogate mother result only in her own comeuppance, G-d rebukes her for laughing at the same promise that made her husband laugh without being rebuked, and, worst of all, her only child is led off to be sacrificed, and, apparently, she doesn't live long enough to know that an animal was sacrificed in Yitzchak's place. It's to the rabbis' credit that they show her more respect than the Torah does.

Tue Nov 09, 07:44:00 PM 2004  

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