Chayei Sarah – Sarah’s Dream

And Sarah died in Kiriat Arba. (Bereishit 23:2).

Tossing uneasily
in the depths of a dream,
Sarah heard an echo,
“Abraham… take your son…
Isaac…and offer him…
as a burnt offering
on one of the mountains
that I will show you.”

First light played gently
on her closed eyelids.
Sarah sat up startled,
Abraham had slipped
from her side.
The cool breeze
of early morning
caressed her face
as vainly
she sought her son.

Shadows lengthened
amid rising disquiet.
Sarah murmured, “Oh God,
I’ve lived my life:
Isaac has his dreams;
take my life, not his!”

Agonized, she gazed
at the star-splashed sky.
“Lord of the world,
You promised that
through Isaac,
Abraham’s descendants
would be countless as the stars.
Take my life, not his!”

Three days elapsed
in mounting terror.
The angel called to Abraham,
“Do not raise your hand
against the boy.
Do not do anything to him.”

Abraham offered a ram for his son.

Sarah’s heart, unknowing,
brimmed over with love and dread.

Although the Torah never explicitly makes the connection, many commentators attribute Sarah’s death to the near-tragedy of the Akeida. One Midrash (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer 32) recounts that Satan reported to Sarah what had occurred and she died on the spot. Another Midrash (Tanchuma Vayeira 23) says that Isaac himself told Sarah that his father had almost sacrificed him and she died from shock at the destruction of her belief in God that he would demand such a sacrifice, and in Abraham that he would comply (stopped only by an angel).
Phyllis Trible, a contemporary biblical scholar and feminist, imagines Sarah pleading with God to take her instead of Isaac. (Beginning Anew: Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days.)
Rabbi Kalonymus Shapira (1889-1943), in his book Sacred Fire (written in the Warsaw Ghetto) writes, “Sarah died in order to show God that a Jew should not be expected to suffer unlimited levels of anguish. Even though a person, with God’s mercy, survives and escapes death, nevertheless…his mind and spirit are forever broken…”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s