Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayera
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

CHESHVAN 18 5777
Among the cataclysmic topics in this week’s Sedra is the promise from Hashem that Avraham and Sara will have a child in their old age (the Tzadee in Yitzchak’s name stands for 90, Sara’s age, the Kuf stands for 100, Avraham’s age; plus the word Chai, life!).

What is most perplexing is that Sara laughs at this news, seemingly in disbelief. (The fact that Avraham also laughed, said my Rebbe, is not so unusual – men have lesser faith than women!). Hashem finds it necessary to call Sara out on her failure to believe that G-d can create any miracle, at any time, even when seemingly impossible (the Gemara says that Sara actually lacked a uterus, making birth a physical impossibility). Even when Sara denies having laughed, Avraham corrects her, "Oh, no, you certainly did laugh!"

But perhaps it was the disbelief of Sara, the great pillar of faith -and her eventual joy at the miracle performed for her - that would set the stage for the future. Says the Medrash:

"Why was Sara granted a son only in her old age, after she had despaired of ever having a child? It was to be a lesson for all time: If anyone would give up hope that Hashem would return the Jewish People to Jerusalem and rebuild the Bet HaMikdash, he would be told, ‘Just as Sara was rejuvenated after many years, though she and everyone else did not believe it could happen, so will Hashem rejuvenate and redeem us in supernatural fashion.’ "

Though we live in an age where miracles come dressed in natural clothing, every once in a while some event comes along to remind us that miracles can indeed happen, that we mortals do not know everything, and certainly do not control everything. When we look at the events of the American election, we are overwhelmed by how stunning an upset this was, how all the so-called experts were wrong in their predictions, arrogantly assuming that their candidate could not possibly lose. But lose she did.

What exactly will this mean for Am Yisrael? Will it lead to better times for Israel, more support, maybe even the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash in our days? (See, for example, an excellent article recently written by a close friend:

I am no prophet; I cannot say for sure what all this portends. But what IS clear is that the Hand of Hashem is being raised in a very obvious way; it tells us that nothing is ever beyond the realm of possibility, and it surely is pointing clearly to Geula/Redemption.

Sara’s laugh may have begun as one of disbelief, but it ended in joy. We, too, shall have the last laugh.

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