Re: Death of Sarah

Yehoshua Kahan (
Sun, 02 Feb 1997 03:10:43 EST

Florence Amit asked why we can say that Sarah Imeinu died from joy, knowing
her job was complete. While I personally don't claim to know enough as to
be able to try to ascertain the motives of the Avos (fathers)and Imahos
(mothers), I am able to say why it's possible to say such a thing, I think.
Florence, even though we are bidden to be kind to each other--indeed, the
very word for "a pious person", "chasid", is related to "chesed", meaning
kindness--to be kind rather than cruel is not the goal of life. Indeed,
King Saul was thrown off his throne specifically because he was too kind,
in failing to completely annihilate Amalek, having left their king alive
for one day, the whole story being related in chapter 15 of 1 Samuel.
Rather, we are here to serve G-d by obeying whatever He commands, whether
it appears to us to be kind or cruel, and for this reason, after He had
prevented Abraham from actually slaughtering Isaac, He said "...for now I
know that you fear G-d, since you have not witheld your son, your only son,
from me..." (Gen. 22:12) G-d then went on to bless Abraham with tremendous
blessings. Evidently, then, it was a good thing that Abraham did by being
prepared to slaughter his son, and to this day, we often call upon that in
our prayers as a reason why G-d should have mercy on us. So, perhaps when
Sarah heard that her husband was prepared to obey G-d to the extent of
slaughtering his son, and with him destroying everything he had worked so
many years for, and her son was prepared to be slaughtered simply because a
true prophet told him that this was G-d's Will, even without hearing it
from G-d Himself...perhaps she was then assured that she had finished her
job in terms of helping her husband and son reach the highest pinnacles of
self-nullification before the Will of G-d, and could now leave this world.
I think that is the logic behind the attitude you disagreed with, and it
is, I think, a good logic.

Yehoshua Kahan