Rosh HaShana – Day One – Family Dysfunction
Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 12, 2007
I have often wondered why the Sages are so reluctant to admit that the Great People of Torah were fully human with human failings and human feelings.
I was thinking about the Parasha for Rosh HaShana Day One – Yitzhak’s birth – the Parasha speaks about Sarah – and not one source I have found depict her as a woman of flesh and blood, distrusting, jealous, domineering, verbal, abusive and ever the meddler – no, no, Sarah was soooo saintly it’s revolting…
Let’s start with the matter of Ishmael:
Gen 16:2-6 And Sarai said unto Abram: ‘Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing; go in, I pray thee, unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall be builded up through her.’ And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram: ‘My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.’ But Abram said unto Sarai: ‘Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes.’ And Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her face.
G-d has promised to give Avraham an heir – Bereshit/Gen 15:4 – but nothing happened – so Sarah decides to “help G-d along”, she insists that Avraham takes Hagar for a second wife, so he can have an heir. And then when Hagar indeed becomes pregnant, Sarah is all miffed about it, throws all the responsibility on Avraham and demands that Avraham gets rid of Hagar – Avraham is quite puzzled about this and tells Sarah that, as she was the one who thrust Hagar upon him, she be the one to deal with Hagar – now can you say “Co-dependent”? Then she decides that it’s all Hagar’s fault and commence to abuse her to a point where Hagar actually runs away! Oy Vei! Very saintly of Sarah indeed.
Then comes the promise of Yitzhak:
“And God said: “Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.
“And they said unto him: ‘Where is Sarah thy wife?’ And he said: ‘Behold, in the tent.’ And He said: ‘I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. – Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. – And Sarah laughed within herself, saying: ‘After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the LORD said unto Abraham: ‘Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying: Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD. At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.’ Then Sarah denied, saying: ‘I laughed not’; for she was afraid. And He said: ‘Nay; but thou didst laugh.'”
At this Sarah laughs at G-d, and lies about having laughed…very saintly. You will have to look very far to find a family as dysfunctional as this.
So when Yitzhak is finally born, what happens?
Sarah immidiately targets poor Hagar and Ishmael for even more abuse – and again she lets Avraham be the tool which she uses to do her dirty deed.
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport. Wherefore she said unto Abraham: ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.’ And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight on account of his son. “
It really is no wonder that Avraham looses it and goes mad to a point where he ends up attempting to sacrifice his second son…he at least had the decency to feel bad about throwing out Hagar and Ishmael.
You know, the Patriarchal/Matriarchal Family is one Dysfunctional Family, from Avraham to Yosef, Sarah to Dinah.
Phew – no wonder Jews are such a mottled crew .
No wonder we need an entire month and ten days to examine ourselves and set right what we have messed up. Baruch HaShem for the Days of Awe!
L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu
The Parasha/Dvar Torah for the Second Day of Rosh HaShana: Rosh HaShana – The Akedah – More Family Dysfunction