Saturday, October 30, 2021

My name is—or was—Sarah, and I was the Invisible Matriarch.

My husband, Avraham, never asked me whether I wanted to leave Charan for some unknown place.  He just expected me to tag along like an obedient wife.  

Then there was a famine in our new land, and we traveled to Egypt.  There, Avraham asked me to say I was his sister so that it would go well for *him* when I was taken into Pharoah’s harem.  He profited while I suffered.  Did he actually care whether I ever got out, or whether I was imprisoned there for the rest of my life?  G!d was the one who intervened.

I even gave my maidservant to Abraham as a surrogate mother because G?d didn’t bother telling me that I was going to have a child of my own, eventually.  But when Hagar got pregnant and began treating me with disdain, Avraham couldn’t have cared less.

Then, when G?d finally revealed--to *Avraham!*--that I was going to have a baby at the age of 90-something, I got yelled at for thinking skeptical thoughts.  Why would anyone expect me *not* to be skeptical, after trying for decades to have a baby?  And how, exactly, was I supposed to feel?  On one hand, it would certainly be nice to be able to fool around with my husband again.  On the other hand, I was an old woman with a bad back and arthritic knees.  How was I supposed to carry a fetus for nine months and give birth safely at such an advanced age?  And even if I survived labor, how was I supposed to manage months of sleep deprivation, followed by a couple of years of chasing a toddler around the tent to make sure he stayed safe?

Why did G?d keep me waiting so long?  I spent decades suffering the private pain of infertility and the public shame of being barren.  But did G?d care?  No.  The point was never for me to have a baby—the point was for me to have a miracle.  I was to be living proof that G?d had the power to make a barren, old, post-menopausal woman conceive.  My years of pain were just collateral damage.

But apparently, Avraham was even more of a skeptic about us having a baby together in our old age than I was, because he let me be taken into a harem yet again before I even got pregnant, as if he neither believed what G!d had said nor cared.  Again, G!d had to intervene to free me.  I just knew that the locals would laugh when Yitzchak was born—it certainly couldn’t have escaped their notice that Avraham hadn’t fathered a child in over 13 years.  So who was Yitzchak’s father, anyway, Avraham or Avimelech?  I’ll never tell.

It’s true that I was mean to insist that Yishmael and his mother Hagar be expelled from our home.  But, in my defense, what choice did I have?  It was clear to me that Avraham was perfectly happy to let Yishmael inherit the bulk of his estate and leave Yitzchak with the leftovers.  I had to protect my son.

Then, G?d ordered Avraham to sacrifice Yitzchakmy only child!Avraham hurried to obey without a single word of protest, and neither of them even bothered to tell me, as if the welfare of my own child was no concern of mine.

You shouldn't be surprised that I died.  What's the point in living when the only reason you exist is to prove that G?d has complete control over birth and death, and no one—human or divine—actually seems to care whether you're alive or dead?


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