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Sarah's Death in the Wake of the Binding

Dark cave looking out to light through an opening in the rock

Torah: Sarah died in Kiryat Arba... Abraham came to bewail Sarah, and to weep for her. (Genesis 23:2).

Rashi's Commentary:

The narrative of the death of Sarah follows immediately on that of the binding of Isaac, because through the announcement of the binding—that her son had been made ready for sacrifice and had almost been sacrificed—her soul flew from her and she died (Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 32).

Rashi's commentary brings Sarah into a story from which she is missing. Though I am sometimes frustrated at the lack of a female perspective in our Torah stories, I find it comforting that our ancient midrash writers were also disturbed by this. In fact, this Rashi (based on a much earlier midrash) writes Sarah and her sensibilities back into story.

Even as Abraham passed the test (whether it be a test to be willing to kill his beloved son or a test to retreat from his zealotry), this midrash points out the consequences of trama. After the binding, life would never be the same.

Questions for discussion:

  1. How does this Rashi (which comes from midrash) affect the interpretation of the binding of Isaac story?

  2. What is your understanding of the meaning of the binding story?

  3. How does this midrash fit in (or not fit in) with your understanding of the meaning of the binding story?
Topics: Divrei Torah
Type: Dvar Torah