Rabbi Moshe Pinchuk
Former Rosh Kollel (Melbourne, 1998-2001)
Currently Head of the Beit Midrash in Netanya College
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport. Wherefore she said unto Abraham: ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight on account of his son. And God said unto Abraham: ‘Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall seed be called to thee”.
(Genesis 21, 9 – 12)
“in all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice” – beyond simply being a command god gave to Abraham, this verse affords us a glimpse of Sarah’s majestic figure. This verse teaches us tha Sarah is different and better than all other daughters of Eve – she has transcended them!
To gain a full appreciation of the meaning of this verse we must return to the birth of the world to the early days of creation. Man was created as a single being in his world and was lonely, “but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him” (Gen 2, 20), “And the Lord God said: It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Gen 2,18). Thus woman was created as a partner for man, but man, being ungrateful, abused this favor to shake free from his sin and blaimed her for his sin: “And the man said: The woman Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen 3,12). Nahmanides explains: “the woman that you yourself gave to me as a partner and helper, she gave me from this tree, and I thought that whatever she told me would be useful and helpful for me”.
The woman too, abused her status of help meet and partner and used her authority to make man eat from the tree. Therefore she was punished according to her sin, “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen 3,16). Once more Nahmanides points out: “and this punishment is exact retribution to her sin, because she abused her authority and gave man to eat and was punished that from now on he shall command her rather than she control him”.
So woman’s position changed from commander to obeyer. Not so was Sarah our Matriarch, ” in all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice”. Sarah is like Eve prior to the sin and fall of man, she commands Abraham, ” Wherefore she said unto Abraham: ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, with Isaac”.