Friday, November 07, 2014

Lech Lechah-Vayeirah Thought:

Sarah famously laughed when she heard that she'd have a baby in her advanced old age. And Yitchak, so we think, was named for her laughter.  The fact is that toward the end of Lech Lechah, G-d appears to Avraham and tells him that he's going to have a son. Avraham laughs and the son is named Yitzchak.

Why was Sarah chastised by G-d for her laughter while Avraham was not? Unkelos, who is known as a translator, but like every translator is a commentator/interpreter, interprets the same word used for the laughing of Avraham and Sarah in two different ways.  Regarding Sarah Unkelos writes that the she laughed, while for Avraham he says that he was joyful. Sarah, Unkelos (as cited by Rashi) seems to say, laughed in a cynical way, while Avraham laughed in a celebration.  This is supported by G-d's reaction to Sarah's laughter, asking if anything is impossible for him.

There's laughter that is dismissive and negative and laughter which is embracing and happy.  Today cynical humor is all the rage.  But we are better served when we laugh in a positive fashion.

On a related note, perhaps Sarah let go of her dream, so when she heard it could still come true she laughed it off.  But Avraham never let go of his dream, so though it seemed to not be in the cards, when he heard that it was going to come true, it still resonated for him, and he laughed in joy.


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