Thursday, October 21, 2010

No laughing matter...

Then HASHEM said to Abraham, "Why is it that Sarah laughed, saying: 'Is it even true that I shall give birth, though I have aged?' (Gen. 18:13)
Scripture altered its report of Sarah's words for the sake of peace, for she had said "and my husband is old." (Rashi, ibid.)
The general understanding of this passage is that when HaShem confronted Avraham Avinu about his wife's response to the message from the angels, He changed the statement to one of self-deprecation on Sarah's part rather than a comment on her husband's age - ostensibly for the sake of shalom bayit (peace in the household).

A question on this Rashi has been bothering me for quite some time. We know that Sarah had a greater level of prophecy than Avraham; why did HaShem have to say anything to Avraham, and restate the facts to preserve marital harmony? Why didn't He just ask Sarah herself why she laughed?

If anybody has an answer, I'd be much obliged...

11 comments:

ami said...

She was niddah.

Shmuel said...

And...?

ami said...

Niddah can't get nevuah. A person that's tamei can't get nevuah. Think about it she can't even go to beit hamikdash and you want nevuah, that's why moshe seperated himself from his wife. Cause nevuah came to him constantly and thus he couldn't ever be tumas keri. Ask your rosh for further info, I don't have time to go into it. Take it as a granted.if he doesn't know either then ill find you the sources although if I recall correctly I believe the meam loez brings it down. Good shabbas

Shmuel said...

I hear where you're coming from, but I think your p'shat is a little bit of a stretch.

For one thing, Sarah was physiologically barren - as the Gemara explains, she didn't have a uterus. No uterus = no menstrual cycle = no tuma'at Niddah.

Even so, we know that HaShem restored her childbearing capabilities, but that was only AFTER this story occurred.

With that said, it's still possible what you said, and I will be sure to take a look at the Meam Loez over Shabbos. Thanks!

ami said...

the gemara, midrash, and rashi (18:8) all say that her veset came back BEFORE this namely it came back when she was in middle of making the bread. thats why she didnt end up serving the bread she was supposed to be making. you might then ask why she laughed if she had her veset come back, the meforshim discuss it(extremely fascinating discussion in the poskim on this actually). thats why i said in the first place that she was a nidda, i assumed you knew that her veset had come back by then. i guess you didnt. ayin rashi and all the other sources. its clear as day that she was pirsa niddah and thus the shechina nistalka mina.

Shmuel said...

I'll have to take a look-see. Thanks!

Shmuel said...

Ami - the Sifsei Chachamim (along with several other commentators) don't learn that Rashi literally in the sense of being menstruating at that time, but rather she was concerned that she may begin menstruating, because she was unsure if the one time she experienced a flow was a fluke or not.

But obviously, if she was a niddah, then your answer shows how it's not even a question to begin with. Yasher Ko'ach!

ami said...

well the siftei hachamim is just trying to point out that she wasnt sure what she was experiencing was niddah (he does this to try to explain how she couldve laughed if she saw niddah). all he is saying is that to her it was safek but in essence she was one hundred percent niddah lifnei hashchina and therefore she couldnt get nevauh (even lfi the siftei hachamim) i hope im being clear because i dont have much time to elaborate. shavuah tov.

Shmuel said...

I hear you Ami, but the Sifsei by the original pasuk that you directed me to states that she was not necessarily a niddah (in terms of actual status) at that time.
Later, to explain how she laughed, the S.C. elaborates that she believed the flow that she had experienced in general to be a chance occurrence.

Moe said...

i saw an answer from rav yisroel slant in the "ain yaakov" look it up. he says that the reason why hashem did not go to sarah first because many times when the wife is no perfect in one aspect of life the husband has been lacking in the aspect as well, and since the wife follows the husbands lead she becomes even more lax. the hashem told avraham that sarah was missing some emuna so that she should make sure that he was not the cause of it.

i wanted to tell you that i'm not going to tell you the answer unless you called me but i see you have other answers to i guess i would not get a call after all....

call me anyway....

Reb Y. said...

I like moes answer. Here is my take on it: In Parsahs Lech Lecha when Avraham was given the news that he and Sorah will bear a child had the same reaction that Sorah did- He laughed. Can it be that there was a double messege here 1 for Avraham and one for Sorah?

And both of you Moe and Shmuel can give me a call...