THE DEATH OF A MATRIARCH

October 31st, 2018

The death of Abraham’s wife Sarah is recorded at the beginning of Parshat Chayei Sarah (Gen. 23).

But the wording that is used in the passage is quite strange, a fact picked up by all the major commentaries. Rashi offers an explanation that makes sense in an isolated context, but raises the question of why the death of other major figures in the Torah are not recorded in the same way. 
 
The Midrash in Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer (quoted by Rashi) remarks on the proximity of her death to the Akeida (Isaac’s binding), the final test of Abraham, noting that Sarah died immediately after being informed, but before she learned that Isaac had not been killed.

The idea that Sarah was unaware of the Akeida is inconceivable, particularly as elsewhere the Midrash informs us that Sarah’s prophetic prowess was greater than that of her husband.
 
Rabbi Dunner unpacks this entire episode, revealing why the record of Sarah’s death in the Torah and Midrash makes perfect sense in every respect.

Photo: Visitors at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on September 9, 2009. According to tradition all the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people are believed to be buried there, after the plot of land on which this building stands was purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite, as recorded in Gen. 23. (Copyright : Rafael Ben-Ari)

CHAYEI SARAH 2018 – SOURCE SHEET

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