I’m Studying This Week’s Torah Portion Live On My Cam

The topic is Vayeira (Genesis 18-22).

I’m getting ready for my dialogue Thursday with Joey Kurtzman.

I’m armed with numerous commentaries.

Click here to watch via my cam.

In the November issue of Commentary magazine, Hillel Halkin suggests that our matriarch Sarah was sleeping around. That she gave Pharoah and Avimelech the clap.

Genesis 12: 17: "But the Lord afflicted Pharoah and his household with mighty plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Abram."

Nahum Sarna in the JTS commentary says: "Their [plagues] nature is not explained, but they must have been of the kind that would somehow suggest a connection with Pharoah’s passion for Sarai, as Ramban suggests. Temporal sexual impotence induced by some severe inflammation or acute infection of the genital area suggests itself (Gen. 20:17)."

The Artscroll says: "God smote Pharoah and his household with a debilitating skin disease that made cohabitation impossible, thus assuring Sarah’s chastity would be safeguarded."

Genesis 20: 14 says that Avimelech returned Sarah to Abraham. Then soon after, she gives birth to Isaac. This suggests that Avimelech is the father of Isaac and that’s why Avraham didn’t mind sacrificing Isaac.

Genesis 20: 17 indicates that Sarah gave Avimelech the clap also.

Going around giving guys the clap does not seem like Godly behavior.

And where did Sarah get the clap? Not from Avraham.

I tried to research this story via Google but couldn’t find much. A search for "Sarah slut" yielded a bunch of results on Sarah Palin. "Sarah clap" was no more useful.

Pastor Larry Wood writes on BibleNews1.com:

Sara’s reputation is spared by the Biblical dialogue, but it is easy to read between the lines.  Pharaoh married her.  Sara played the role of the obedient wife.  She did not betray Abraham, but she fulfilled her duty to her new husband, Pharaoh.  Because of the arrogance of women today, this obedience is difficult to fathom.  Perhaps the reputation of the women of Japan (or perhaps China) are the rare example of this brand of feminine obedience.  American women, in general, do not compare with Japanese women regarding obedience.  The point that is being made is that the obedience of Sara in this circumstance, which is like that of traditional Japanese women, is entirely Biblical and entirely correct.  Why?  because Sara had no authority.  She was never asked to marry Pharaoh.  She had no vote and she did not complain.

Sara submitted to the conjugal rights of her new husband in marriage.  The picture is so clear that only a few words are needed to describe it.  Sara was a beautiful celebrity.  She executed her role as the new harem bride of Pharaoh under strict adherence to protocol.  She did not betray her Right Man, Abraham; and she did not embarrass her new husband, Pharaoh.  When Pharaoh saw Sara immaculately groomed and dressed as a harem princess to arouse his most intimate desire, he was overcome by her breathtaking beauty.  When he caught a glimpse of her feminine form, his eyes dilated from lust.  When she bared her beautiful breasts, his breath stopped.

…Sara was not the legalistic female like John Wesley’s mother, but a relaxed believer with capacity for sexual life and love.  She gave Pharaoh pleasure.  How do we know?  because of the smooth progression of events and because Pharaoh heaped gifts on Abraham for Sara’s sake.  Pharaoh was well pleased with his new harem princess.  He fulfilled his ultimate fantasy in making love to the world’s most beautiful woman.

…Her body responded to mechanoreceptors in sensual stimulation.  The mind said no; the body said yes; and the heart was the battlefield of suffering and testing.

…Sara was indeed forced into the sensuality of Pharaoh’s passionate romance.  He brought her to his harem.  He married her.  He seduced her with his sensual touch.  Her body could not help but respond while her mind submitted to adulterated authority and her heart battled the cosmic intruder that would strip her soul of the last vestige of dignity, the love of her Right Man.  She was naked before Pharaoh.  He used her to fulfill his wildest fantasies.  The other women in the harem knew what was happening to Sara as did the members of Pharaoh’s court, the people of Egypt, and Abraham, Lot, and their cowboys and families.  Sara and Pharaoh were the popular gossip in the streets.

Rabbi Ari Kahn writes:

The Shla Hakadosh suggests that in fact Avraham found the holiest place, the inner sanctum, the Kodesh Hakdoshim, citing the Midrashic tradition that the voice that calls out to Avraham comes from between the two Keruvim. Such a voice, says the Shla, could only be heard in the Kodesh Hakdoshim. There, deep in the holiest place, no sacrifices are offered, only incense. The command Avraham received was, in actuality, to enter the Kodesh Hakdoshim, to assume the role of Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and to pass it on to Yitzchak.(23) The ‘Akeida thus unlocks for us an understanding of the core of the Beit Hamikdash: Har HaMoriah is named for mor, one of the spices used to make the incense offering brought in the Kodesh Hakdoshim. The very core of the Beit HaMikdash, of Har HaMoriah, of the Kodesh Hakdoshim itself, is incense and not sacrifice. This is the core of the ‘Akeida as well. (24)

So much for the message of the ‘Akeida. But what of the test? If this was to be a test of Avraham and Yitzchak’s relationship with one another, or of their relationship with God, they clearly passed with flying colors: Would the two walk together, clinging to one another and clinging to their faith in God? Yes. But their love of God pushed them beyond the actual command of God: If the commandment was to elevate Yitzchak, then Avraham certainly succeeded. God did not require Avraham to elevate Yitzchak in a traumatic manner. Perhaps Avraham, who entered Nimrod’s fiery furnace because of his love of God, did not find it strange that at times God may require such heroic action. But Avraham should have paid closer attention to God’s words: “I am the one who took you out of the furnace”. God did not ask Avraham to sacrifice himself in this way. On the other hand, Avraham, who almost met his death in the furnace, knew of God’s miracles and His salvation, knew that somehow Yitzchak, too, would survive. In the end, he was not wrong.

After the ‘Akeida, Avraham and Yitzchak had even more in common than before: Both were willing to give up their lives for their love of God. They were both almost burnt offerings, and they were both elevated by that experience. Most importantly, they walked together.

Josh:  we revere avraham as a man who obeys Hashem to a tee, as he willingly attempts to sacrifice his favorite son,
Josh:  however, when it comes to the destruction of S’dom and Amorah, avraham actually questions Hashem’s decree and negotiates with Him
Josh:  wtf is up with that.  there are several issues that disturb me about this dichotomy
Josh:  firstly, avraham (the progressive liberal that he was) does not question Hashem when asked to sacrifice his favorite son, but starts negotiating with Hashem regarding the lives of complete strangers
Josh:  secondly, as a child i was taught to revere avraham for his obediance, and then a week later i was taught to revere avraham for his love of his fellow man
Josh:  my pre-adoloescent brain was mature enough to be confused by this even then, and no one haas ever given me a good response
NJG:  I love running with wii fit
NJG:  I’m still sweating tons from running for 10 mins, I’m going to up it to 20 mins in a few days
NJG:  then 30 mins
NJG:  I don’t know why I love to run, but I do, even though it kills my calves
NJG:  I even run in crocs!  They help believe it or not
NJG:  you just run in front of your set
NJG:  do you run?
Josh:  no, i sit all day
Josh:  not good
NJG:  do you ever play any of the computer games out there?
Josh:  my man boobs are bigger than my wife’s
NJG:  my DH (dear husband) is a big gamer
NJG:  you must work at home, like my DH?
Josh:  my parents were cheap and never bought me video game systems
Josh:  so it’s not something that interests me today, sorry
Josh:  i work in an office
NJG:  you know, my parents were cheap too
NJG:  but my husband – I love him, he loves to spend big $$$$$ on everything
NJG:  always has to be the best, lol
Josh:  lucky woman
NJG:  well, we don’t have a home yet, but live in a luxury apt complex
Josh:  i’ve adopted my parents’ cheap habits
NJG:  oh that’s not good for your wife
NJG:  does your wife work?
Josh:  and i also gotta save cash for my kids’ yeshiva
NJG:  we’re kidless, still, eventually I need to have IVF
NJG:  prob from Mexico, I can’t afford the USA prices
Josh:  good luck
NJG:  wait, I’m not goy, I’m jewish
NJG:  my DH is catholic
Josh:  i thought your husband spends $$$ on the best
NJG:  yeah, he does
Josh:  IVF in mexico, dear god
NJG:  can’t afford $20k here
NJG:  rather buy a home
NJG:  per cycle!

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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