was hosting his guests, with the utmost willingness to do
kindness, the guests asks him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
And he said, “Behold she is in the tent.” And he said (the
guest, an angel) “I will surely return to you at this time
next year... and a son to Sarah your wife.” (Genesis 18
was ninety-nine at the time and Sarah reacted to the good
news by laughing inwardly. When G-d informed Abraham of
Sarah's reactions, “Sarah denied, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’
for she was frightened; and he (Abraham) said, ‘No, but you
laughed.’” (Genesis 18:15)
to Nachmandies, Sarah had no idea that Abraham's guests were
angels. The guests had appeared as ordinary people traveling
through the area. Abraham constantly had guests and Sarah
just happened to overhear one of them predicting a child for
her. Nachmandies even suggests that Sarah may not have seen
the guests but just overheard the conversation.
was Sarah criticized for laughing inwardly when she
overheard an ostensibly ludicrous prediction from an unknown
traveler? Because, Nachmandies explains, even had it truly
been a preposterous suggestion, Sarah still should have had
faith and answered “Amen”.
reader may be inclined to join in the criticism. After all,
Sarah was a prophetess who conversed with G-d, witnessed
miracles, and, according to tradition, was on a higher
spiritual level than Abraham. How could she not recognize
that G-d’s salvation could come in the blink of an eye?
aren’t we all guilty of Sarah’s mistake? Do we need to have
conversations with G-d or witness miracles to realize that
the Master of the universe can save anyone in an instant?
How often have we seen someone terminally ill or in a
desperate situation and lost hope? Or wished them luck not
expecting our wishes to be of any help? Nachmanides is
telling us that the Torah recites this passage for our
benefit, that we should never lose hope.
blessings, those given and those received, should be taken
seriously. No matter the odds, it is not for us to say what
G-d will or will not do or whose blessing He will or will
not regard. Just as Sarah, knowing G-d’s salvation can come
at any time from any place, should have appreciated her
guest’s unlikely blessing, so should we.
Divrei Torah on Parshat Vayeira: