The Joke Is On You!


Volume 98 Number 4
October 22, 2021
Cheshvan 16,5782
Candlelighting Time 5:52 PM

Avrohom has been waiting for a son for a hundred years, always worrying that he won’t have an heir to advance his legacy. Finally, Hashem guarantees him that Sara will bear him a son and his joy knows no limits. He doesn’t inform Sara of this wonderful bit of news, so when the angels disguised as Arabs tell Sara about the upcoming simcha, she is rather sarcastic, seemingly smirking about this. Hashem tells Avrohom about her reaction and he reprimands her for her caustic response. She denies the entire episode because she is afraid to admit to her mistake. This entire incident is somewhat difficult to understands. Firstly, what can we glean from this occurrence that will guide us in the future. It is possible to answer as Nachmonides states that Sara’s error was that even though she did not recognize that these Arabs were angels, nonetheless, when they promised her that she would have a son, she should have enjoined them and said, “So should it be His will.” Certainly, that would have been an appropriate reply, however the entire dialogue between Hashem and Avrohom and Avrohom and Sara is rather superfluous. Also why didn’t Hashem just castigate Sara directly since she was a prophet, even greater than Avrohom, instead of telling Avrohom to confront her?

            S’fas Emes offers a fascinating explanation of what transpired. Sara did indeed mistakenly scoff at the news that she would have a son. Even though we may try to justify her conduct, nonetheless she blundered. However, she immediately corrected her mistake and repented. Repentance out of love for Hashem not only eliminates the sin but transforms it into a merit. But if one repents due to fear of retribution from Hashem, then the sin is erased but that level of repentance does not transmute the sin into a merit. Sara’s response that she did not mock the news actually was her retort to Avrohom that I have repented for my irresponsible comment but, as the Torah states, it was due to fear of Hashem not from love. Avrohom was the epitome of the trait of love, always exploring different ways to help others. Therefore, his rebuke to Sara was demanding that she conclude her repentance on the level of love for Hashem. She was inspired by his words and when Yitzchok was born she stated that all will relate to my happiness and enjoyment. Therefore, we note that she altered her attitude and come to the conclusion of expressing that simcha appropriately. It is possible to explain that Hashem did not approach Sara because this may have eliminated her free will choice to repent from love of Hashem whereas Avrohom’s scolding was more of an encouragement to inspire her.  

            Perhaps from this parsha we see the incredible ability of our Matriarchs to immediately assess their incorrect path in life and rectify their error. Too often we are stubborn and refuse to accept another’s suggestion and improve our lives. Flexibility to alter our conduct and remedy our demeanor are valuable tools to enhance our path in life.


Although Sara miraculously regained her youth, however, Avrohom did not. Therefore, she was somewhat doubtful that she could bear a child through Avrohom and did not receive the news properly.