When posting photos from my part of the world, I tend to post evening scenes. For a change, I have chosen two morning shots for this week’s Skywatch Friday and from a different window of course.
Skywatch Friday starts tonight. Find out more and join in by clicking here.
Maybe the most striking element about this week’s parshah is that it is the only one which is named after a woman. In addition we may find it puzzling to have a parshah whose name means “The Life of Sarah” while in fact it starts with her death. I searched the web a little in search of an answer and one of the reasons I came across was that the name of the parshah is a tribute to Sarah’s legacy.
Strangely enough while Christianity and Islam put a lot of emphasis on Abraham (Ibrahim for Muslims), very little is said in these religions about Sarah. She is Abraham’s wife and this seems to be enough.
Judaism, on the contrary, has numerous rabbinic comments and Midrashim about Sarah. Enumerating all that has been written about the first matriarch would be tedious and outside the scope of this post therefore I have chosen to focus on one aspect.
Sarah is considered to be the mother of every convert to Judaism. Thus if you convert to Judaism, you become So-and-so bat/bar Avraham ve Sarah (that is to say So-and-so daughter/son of Abraham and Sarah). This is because, together, she and Abraham attracted a large number of followers who were drawn to their way of life and to their teachings. It is said that on their journeys Abraham converted the men, and Sarah the women. (Genesis Rabba 39: 21)
The modern woman in me couldn’t help noticing that it did not seem strange to the Talmud writers to mention that a woman was teaching, even if she was only teaching other women. To teach one needs knowledge and to acquire knowledge one needs to learn. In other words, even in ancient times Jewish authorities did not find it odd to write that a woman was a teacher. Obviously something happened in between and soon knowledge became a man’s speciality.
Sarah is often cited as the woman who lit Shabbat candles, took challah and followed the laws of family purity (Rashi on Genesis 25:67), Jewish laws which are the woman’s responsibiliy. Yet the Torah makes clear that she was not just the perfect Jewish housekeeper but also the first female Jewish scholar.