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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Vayeira
Candle Lighting 4:23 PM NYC EST 11/11/11
Rabbi Chaim Lobel – Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com

 

 

Miracles – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menchem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)

At eighty-nine years old, Sarah hears the news that G-d will grant her a child. “And Sarah laughed internally saying, ‘After I have waxed old, shall my skin become smooth?” (Genesis 18:12 following Rashi’s translation)

“G-d said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh? . . . Is there anything too wondrous for G-d?” (Genesis 18: 13-14)

On the simplest level, Sarah, an elderly woman laughs at the thought of her having a child to which G-d responds that nothing is beyond Him.

The problem is this simplistic understanding does not describe the Sarah we know. Sarah was a prophetess. (Talmud Megillah 14A; 200 CE – 500 CE) She was personally saved by G-d in Egypt and had witnessed miracles secondhand through her husband, Abraham, who was miraculously saved from Nimrod and miraculously defeated the “Four Kings”.

Surely, Sarah didn’t doubt that G-d could perform miracles. Why, then, did Sarah laugh? And why did G-d respond that nothing is “too wondrous” for Him?

The answer can be found in Rashi (1040 1105)  As Rashi explains, when the Torah says Sarah laughed “internally” it means Sarah laughed after looking at her “internal organs” and recognizing she was completely incapable of bearing and nursing a child. In other words, Sarah laughed because the only way she could possibly have a child was through a miracle.

Why then does G-d respond “Is there anything too wondrous for G-d?” Following Onkelos, Rashi translates “too wondrous” as “is anything concealed”; the verse should be read “Is there anything concealed from G-d?” Rashi then expands the verse as follows: “Is there anything too wondrous, too distant, or too concealed to do My will?”

G-d forbid that Sarah ever doubted G-d’s ability to perform miracles. Rather, at that moment, Sarah had forgotten that what appears to us as miraculous is no more an extension of G-d’s will then what appears to us as natural. Just as Sarah’s body aged according to G-d ‘s will, so would it bear and nurse a child according to G-d’s will.

When Sarah looked at her body, she should have never questioned what her body is capable of doing; her body will do, and will only do, what G-d wills for it. If G-d wills the body to age, the body will age. If G-d wills the body to have a child, the body will have a child. Nothing happens unless G-d wills it to happen.

The recognition that everything flows from G-d’s will creates many questions and poses many challenges. Why did this happen? Why did that not happen?

Yet, there is also great comfort knowing G-d is intimately involved in our lives. We know He is constantly with us. We know everything that happens does so for a reason. And we know G-d is merciful and kind.

Whatever happened, G-d willed it. And whatever G-d wills shall happen. “Is there anything too wondrous for G-d?”

May it be G-d’s will that this year be a year of redemption and joy for all of us.

Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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