November 4, 2020 8:28 pm at 8:28 pm #1916899abukspanParticipant
Vayeira — Sense and Sensitivity:
And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have become worn out, will I have smooth flesh? And also, my master is old.” And Hashem said to Avraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Is it really true that I will give birth, although I am old?’” (Bereishis 18:12–13).
Rashi says on the last words of these pesukim: “Shinah hakasuv mipnei hashalom — The Torah altered [her statement] for the sake of peace.” Sarah had said, “And my master is old,” and Hashem told Avraham that she had said, “Although I am old.”
The Gemara (Bava Metzia 87a) teaches in the name of Rabbi Yishmael: “Gadol shalom she’afilu HaKadosh Baruch Hu shinah bo — How great is peace, for even Hashem changed Sarah’s words for the sake of peace.”
Why was it necessary to change Sarah’s words? Was there truly a potential for Sarah’s words to create marital discord? Sarah didn’t speak only of her husband Avraham’s old age, she also described herself as past her prime. Furthermore, what she said was true. Avraham was then ninety-nine years old. (He was probably a founding member of the AARP.) Should it really bother him to be called old? While we cannot begin to fathom the true greatness of character of our Avos, it goes without saying that Avraham had the most sterling of middos. Was Avraham really going to be ticked off by Sarah thinking to herself something that was true?
Perhaps the Torah is teaching us that in regard to feelings, there is no absolute standard. What to me may seem like an innocent quip, may be offensive and hurtful to another. Even if we think there is nothing wrong with a certain comment, we do not have license to say it — if it can possibly be hurtful to someone else. To say that the other is thin-skinned and overreacting is to discount another’s feelings.
Many sefarim write that in truth, Avraham would not have been hurt and their shalom bayis would not have been impacted. The Torah was merely taking this opportunity to illustrate to us the importance of maintaining harmony in the home. We must always look through the prism of the other person’s soul, and not hold him to what we would consider the proper level of sensitivity.
This lesson is borne out from a zug of the Gerrer Rebbe (as told to me by Rav Dov Tzvi Rothstein). It says in Midrash Tanchuma (Pinchas 10), “ Ke’sheim she’ein partzufoseihem shavin zeh la’zeh, kach ein daasam shavin zeh la’zeh, ella kol echad ve’echad yeish lo daas bifnei atzmo — Just as people’s faces are not the same, their thoughts are not the same; each one has his own way of thinking.”
The Gerrer Rebbe asks: Why does the Midrash prove its point by mentioning the fact that no two people look alike? We all know that our thoughts and feelings are unique to ourselves. After just two minutes with a person, we can usually size him up and realize where we differ and disagree. Why do Chazal have to prove this point by pointing out that we all look different? Additionally, why is there a need to make the second half of the statement — that each has his own thoughts? What is being added that we don’t know on our own?
He explains that the emphasis is in our response to the other person’s differences. No two people look alike, and we should not hold that against our friend. I may not like seeing a certain feature on a person, but that should not give me cause to think less of him. Likewise, we should not be critical of a friend who does not share our opinions and sensitivities.
A person whose ideas are different from mine, or a person I find too thin-skinned, should be accorded no less respect and be treated no less pleasantly than my doppelganger.November 4, 2020 8:54 pm at 8:54 pm #1916906
The Yaaros Devash has a cute pshat. Hashem reveals himself to one being able to recognize it in a form that indicates if a miracle will happen. At Kabolas Hatorah, He showed Himself as an elderly, creating no open miracle whereas by the Yam Suf as a Gibor, One with Strength, indicating that an open miracle will happen. Sarah Imenu saw kavayochel Hashem as a zaken, elderly, indicating to her that no open miracle will occur. Since she had no womb to bear a child, she laughed. So the name over here refers to Hashem and not to master or her husband.November 4, 2020 9:36 pm at 9:36 pm #1916909
That is the meaning of vaani zokanti, I have become old, referring to Hashem.November 4, 2020 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm #1916921
The Targum Yonathan translates (18,15) Sarah denied saying, I was not wondering (not laughing) because she was afraid. Answered the Malach, don’t be afraid because you were right to laugh. I think she felt that she was not worthy for a great miracle like that to have a womb implanted.November 5, 2020 9:42 am at 9:42 am #1917037
I think that my translation above is correct. The meaning of kushta means right not truth, because if it means truth, why should Sarah Imenu not be afraid?November 5, 2020 9:43 am at 9:43 am #1917064opinionated-2Participant
Very interestingNovember 5, 2020 9:43 am at 9:43 am #1917058
abukspan, We find a similar idea by Penina, where she might have forced Chanah to daven for a child for an honorable reason but she caused anguish to her This got her punished not having any more children. Maybe Penina could have accomplished her purpose in a different fashion.November 5, 2020 10:58 am at 10:58 am #1917089
Look at Rashi Shmuel (1,2,5) on rabas bonim umlalah about the children of Penina worse than what I said above.November 6, 2020 3:41 pm at 3:41 pm #1917400abukspanParticipant
Reb Eliezer thank you
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