חיי שרה/Life of Sarah
Torah: Genesis 23:1-25:18
Haftarah: I Kings 1:1-31
Brit Chadashah: Matthew 1:1-17
In the opening verse it begins; “Now Sarah lived…” Although, this portion deals entirely with the events that occurred after Sarah’s death, it begins by letting us know that first of all,” Sarah lived.” In chronicling the life of Sarah many teach that alongside Abraham she was much more a passive (maybe even permissive) woman than that of a woman with great strength and faith. As Abraham answered the calling of G-D she followed. Even as Abraham later presented her as his sister she acquiesced…she complied. This has led many to assume that Sarah either was entirely submissive unto Abraham, or that she didn’t have her own voice because she was a woman. Yet Torah suggests that in these instances was Sarah demonstrating complete loyalty unto G-D rather than complete submission to her husband Abraham. In times of trial and tribulation, Sarah was taken care of by G-D and she knew that the L-RD would protect her, even in spite of Abraham’s schemes, such as when he told her not to tell Pharaoh that she was his wife, but rather his sister. It was not that Sarah did not trust Abraham in these instances; she simply trusted more in G-D. She trusted that G-D would deliver her; and He did. Thus, loyalty unto G-D includes trusting G-D in every instance.
Traditionally, Sarah is not only considered one of the Matriarchs, along with Rebekah, Rachel and Leah. She is also considered to be a prophetess. In Torah Sarah was also called Iscah, which means “to gaze” (Genesis 11:29). The early sages said that this name describes both Sarah’s ability to gaze into the future (by Divine inspiration) and because everyone that saw her would gaze upon her beauty. Sarah’s beauty came from her “penim” which means inside, but is written like “panim,” which means face. This was the greatness of Sarah; her inner beauty and her inward faith and loyalty in the G-D to whom she gazed at in faithfulness. John Parsons writes, “Sarah’s modesty and high calling, however, prevented her from viewing herself as the world did. At first she was named Sarai (my princess), a name given to her at birth. With her great beauty she surely could have become a princess of Egypt, even a wife of Pharaoh (Gen 12:11-20). Instead she chose to suffer as a stranger and pilgrim in this world with her husband. Because of her faith in the promise of the L-RD, she was renamed Sarah (princess of the whole world). Sarah may not have heard the Voice of the L-RD calling Abraham to leave his kindred and his country but she willingly joined her husband by faith. She went through the same trials and tribulations of her husband, but she never turned back to the life that she left. You never read in the Scriptures Sarah saying; “I told you, Abraham that this was a bad idea.” Actually, Sarah is praised by G-D for her faith for walking the same path as Abraham. In one instance G-D even told Abraham to listen to his wife concerning the events of Sarah and Hagar (Gen 21:12).
Concerning Sarah, one of the greatest lessons that we can learn from her is the lesson of being modest. In today’s world, modesty is a difficult concept to communicate. The modern culture of society has accustomed us to shamelessness. There is no longer any shame or boundaries; nothing shocks us anymore. Sin has become minimized; or explained as mere character flaws; even in the Body of Messiah. It has been described as, “we have forgotten how to blush.” Torah describes modesty as word that implies humility, submission and discretion. A modest person knows the difference between private and public, inside and outside and even male and female. The immodest person has no discretion. Even if the person acts modest in face of others, inwardly they are willing to accept immodest behavior in others as their right to do so. In today’s mindset modesty is described as narrow-minded and intolerant. According to today’s thinking one must be liberal in their thinking and tolerant of other behaviors regardless of how shameless it may be (shameless behavior is the consequence of unbeliever) (Rom 1:18-32). Now, the Bible tells us that (as believers) we cannot blame non-believers for their behavior, but when it is has infiltrated the Body and nobody does anything about it then there should be cause for alarm and action. Immodest lifestyles mean that the truth has been rejected. Evil has been chosen over good, darkness over light and even the world over G-D. Those that have made such choices have assured themselves judgment. As it is written; “For the wrath of G-D is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” – Rom 1:18. In the body of Messiah immodesty should not only be addressed when it happens outwardly, as in manners of dress and gossip. But it should also be addressed when it happens inwardly, because it will eventually manifest outwardly in the way we treat and feel about others.
In life of the believer there must be loyalty unto G-D according to our faith in Messiah. As Messiah was obedient to G-D the Father; we too are called to live such a life of obedience. Loyal to the Will of G-D and submitted in faith. Sarah knew the difference between inside and outside; private and public. Her beauty radiated from the hidden person within her heart, which compelled to gaze towards Messiah and His promise.