And how fitting that this weeks’ portion is all about the women as we are in the midst of a firestorm of public accusations of sexual harassment and assault. And even more importantly, a raft of local and state elections that in many instances favored women, often first time candidates. Resistance has turned to running; and winning.
In this Torah portion Sarah, the first matriarch, dies at the age of 127 although Abraham, theoretically 137, is still alive. Sarah is buried in a cave in Hebron and Abraham sends his servant off to find a wife for his son, Isaac, now I think 27; an advanced age for marriage in those days.
The servant, Eliezer, asks G-d for a sign, understandable in light of the gravity of the task. The sign comes when Rebecca show kindness to him and his camels, passing his “test”. I love that the sign is kindness and generosity. But it gets a little complicated here as Rebecca is the daughter of Abraham’s brother. But nevertheless….
Rebecca is asked if she will go with this stranger, leave her home, her father’s house, and marry Isaac who she does not know. And although her brothers wish a delay, she says yes and goes. She duly marries Isaac and, by all accounts, is loved.
Finally, Hagar reappears as Abraham’s final wife giving him six more sons. And so in the end, this portion is about the stamina, influence, loyalty and downright bravery of the women. Sarah, who has made difficult choices but endured. Rebecca who has had the courage to say hineini and march into her unknown future. And Hagar who has seen her share of miracles.
When we bless our children we say “make them like….”. And we name these matriarchs and patriarchs. We are so in need of that blessing now. No matter what your world views there can be little dispute that we are living in difficult, chaotic and frightening times.
So my wish for this Shabbat is that we have the stamina and enduring strength to make the hard choices as Sarah did. That we have the courage to go forward boldly into the unknown as Rebecca did. That we have the open mindedness to see the miracles that could save us as Hagar did.
May the examples of these women inspire us all; may we be like them always. Shabbat shalom.