The Matriarchs and the Mystery-- Session II Hagar and Sarai: Competition and Cruelty March 9th, 2021
1א
Opening Poem:
2ב
“From the Book of Esther I Filtered the Sediment” -- Yehudah Amichai.
3ג
From the Book of Esther I filtered the sediment
of vulgar joy, and from the Book of Jeremiah
the howl of pain in the guts. And from
the Song of Songs, the endless
search for love. And from the Book of Genesis,
the dreams and Cain. And from Ecclesiastes,
the despair, and from the Book of Job: Job.
And with what was left, I pasted myself a new Bible.
Now I live censored and pasted and limited and in peace.
4ד
A woman asked me last night on the dark street
how another woman was
who’d already died. Before her time – and not
in anyone else’s time either.
Out of a great weariness I answered:
She’s fine, she’s fine.
סִנַּנְתִּי מִתּוֹךְ מְגִלַּת אֶסְתֵּר אֶת מִשְׁקַע
הַשִּׁמְחָה הַגַּסַּה וּמִתּוֹךְ סֵפֶר יִרְמְיָהוּאֶת יִלְלַת הַכְּאֵב בַּמֵּעַיִם.וּמִתּוֹךְשִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים אֶת הַחִיפּוּשֹ הָאֵין סוֹפִיאַחַר הָאַהֲבָה וּמִסֵּפֶר בְּרֵאשִׁית אֶתהַחֲלוֹמוֹת וְאֶת קַיִן וּמִתּוֹךְ קֹהֶלֶת אֶתהֵיֵּאוּשׁ וּמִתּוֹךְ סֶפֶר אִיּוֹב אֶת אִיּוֹב.וְהִדְבַּקְתִּי לִי מִן הַשְּׁאֵרֵיּוֹת סֶפֶר תַּנַ”ךְ חָדָשׁ.
אֲנִי חַי מְצֹנְזָר וּמֹדְבָּק וּמֹגְבָּל וּבְשַלְוָה.
אשה אחת שאלה אותי אמש ברחוב
החשוך על שלום אשה אחרת
שמתה לא בעתה ולא בעתו של אף אחד
מתוך עיפות גדולה עניתי לה:
שלומה טוב, שלומה טוב.
5ה
3 May 1924 – 22 September 2000) was an Israeli poet. Amichai is considered, both in Israel and internationally, as Israel's greatest modern poet, and one of the leading poets worldwide.
6ו
ויהי רעב בארץ הנה אברהם ירד למצרים מפני הרעב לגור שם להחיות נפשו בימי הבצורת והמצרים עשקו אותו חנם לקחת את אשתו והקב"ה נקם נקמתם בנגעים גדולים והוציאו משם במקנה בכסף ובזהב וגם צוה עליו פרעה אנשים לשלחם ורמז אליו כי בניו ירדו מצרים מפני הרעב לגור שם בארץ והמצרים ירעו להם ויקחו מהם הנשים כאשר אמר (שמות א כב) וכל הבת תחיון והקב"ה ינקום נקמתם בנגעים גדולים עד שיוציאם בכסף וזהב וצאן ובקר מקנה כבד מאד והחזיקו בהם לשלחם מן הארץ לא נפל דבר מכל מאורע האב שלא יהיה בבנים והענין הזה פרשוהו בבראשית רבה (בראשית רבה מ׳:ו׳) רבי פנחס בשם רבי אושעיא אמר אמר הקב"ה לאברהם צא וכבוש את הדרך לפני בניך ואתה מוצא כל מה שכתוב באברהם כתוב בבניו באברהם כתוב ויהי רעב בארץ בישראל כתיב (בראשית מ״ה:ו׳) כי זה שנתים הרעב בקרב הארץ ודע כי אברהם אבינו חטא חטא גדול בשגגה שהביא אשתו הצדקת במכשול עון מפני פחדו פן יהרגוהו והיה לו לבטוח בשם שיציל אותו ואת אשתו ואת כל אשר לו כי יש באלהים כח לעזור ולהציל גם יציאתו מן הארץ שנצטווה עליה בתחילה מפני הרעב עון אשר חטא כי האלהים ברעב יפדנו ממות ועל המעשה הזה נגזר על זרעו הגלות בארץ מצרים ביד פרעה במקום המשפט שמה הרשע והחטא:
And there was famine in the land (Gen. 12:10) – behold, Avraham went down to Egypt due to hunger, to live there temporarily in order to save his life in the days of drought, and the Egyptians exploited him without cause to get his wife, and the Holy One of Blessing avenged them with great afflictions, and brought him out from there with cattle, silver and gold, and Pharaoh had commanded men to send him.
And it is a hint from (Avraham), since his children went down to Egypt because of hunger to live temporarily in the land, and the Egyptians did evil to them and took their wives, as it says (Exodus 1:22) And every (baby) girl you shall let live, and the Holy One of Blessing avenged them with great afflictions until they were taken out (laden) with silver and gold and sheep and cattle, with many possessions, and they (Egyptians) pressed them to be gone from the land.
Not a single incident that befell the father didn't befall the children.
And this matter is explained in Bereshit Rabbah 8:6: "Rabi Pinchas said in the name of Rabbi Oshaya - The Holy One said to Avraham: ‘Go and conquer the way for your children.’
And you find that everything that was written regarding Avraham was also written regarding his descendants: regarding Avraham it is written and there was famine in the land, regarding Israel it is written (Genesis 45:6) this is already two years of famine in all the land."
And you should know that our father Avraham committed a great sin unintentionally, in which he brought his righteous wife to stumble into transgression because of his fear of getting killed, and he should have trusted the Name to have saved him, his wife and all that was his, because Elohim has power to help and to save. Also his going out from the land - of which he had been commanded at the beginning - due to famine was a transgression that he committed, because Elohim would have saved him from dying (even) in a famine. And because of this deed it was decreed that his seed would be in exile in Egypt under the hand of Pharaoh.
7ז
Ramban (1194–1270), commonly known as Nachmanides and also referred to by the acronym Ramban /ˌrɑːmˈbɑːn/ (רמב״ן‎), was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator. He was raised, studied, and lived for most of his life in Girona, Catalonia. He is also considered to be an important figure in the re-establishment of the Jewish community in Jerusalem following its destruction by the Crusaders in 1099.
8ח
(א) וְשָׂרַי֙ אֵ֣שֶׁת אַבְרָ֔ם לֹ֥א יָלְדָ֖ה ל֑וֹ וְלָ֛הּ שִׁפְחָ֥ה מִצְרִ֖ית וּשְׁמָ֥הּ הָגָֽר׃ (ב) וַתֹּ֨אמֶר שָׂרַ֜י אֶל־אַבְרָ֗ם הִנֵּה־נָ֞א עֲצָרַ֤נִי יְהוָה֙ מִלֶּ֔דֶת בֹּא־נָא֙ אֶל־שִׁפְחָתִ֔י אוּלַ֥י אִבָּנֶ֖ה מִמֶּ֑נָּה וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע אַבְרָ֖ם לְק֥וֹל שָׂרָֽי׃ (ג) וַתִּקַּ֞ח שָׂרַ֣י אֵֽשֶׁת־אַבְרָ֗ם אֶת־הָגָ֤ר הַמִּצְרִית֙ שִׁפְחָתָ֔הּ מִקֵּץ֙ עֶ֣שֶׂר שָׁנִ֔ים לְשֶׁ֥בֶת אַבְרָ֖ם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַתִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֛הּ לְאַבְרָ֥ם אִישָׁ֖הּ ל֥וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ (ד) וַיָּבֹ֥א אֶל־הָגָ֖ר וַתַּ֑הַר וַתֵּ֙רֶא֙ כִּ֣י הָרָ֔תָה וַתֵּקַ֥ל גְּבִרְתָּ֖הּ בְּעֵינֶֽיהָ׃ (ה) וַתֹּ֨אמֶר שָׂרַ֣י אֶל־אַבְרָם֮ חֲמָסִ֣י עָלֶיךָ֒ אָנֹכִ֗י נָתַ֤תִּי שִׁפְחָתִי֙ בְּחֵיקֶ֔ךָ וַתֵּ֙רֶא֙ כִּ֣י הָרָ֔תָה וָאֵקַ֖ל בְּעֵינֶ֑יהָ יִשְׁפֹּ֥ט יְהוָ֖ה בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵינֶֽיׄךָ׃ (ו) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר אַבְרָ֜ם אֶל־שָׂרַ֗י הִנֵּ֤ה שִׁפְחָתֵךְ֙ בְּיָדֵ֔ךְ עֲשִׂי־לָ֖הּ הַטּ֣וֹב בְּעֵינָ֑יִךְ וַתְּעַנֶּ֣הָ שָׂרַ֔י וַתִּבְרַ֖ח מִפָּנֶֽיהָ׃ (ז) וַֽיִּמְצָאָ֞הּ מַלְאַ֧ךְ יְהוָ֛ה עַל־עֵ֥ין הַמַּ֖יִם בַּמִּדְבָּ֑ר עַל־הָעַ֖יִן בְּדֶ֥רֶךְ שֽׁוּר׃ (ח) וַיֹּאמַ֗ר הָגָ֞ר שִׁפְחַ֥ת שָׂרַ֛י אֵֽי־מִזֶּ֥ה בָ֖את וְאָ֣נָה תֵלֵ֑כִי וַתֹּ֕אמֶר מִפְּנֵי֙ שָׂרַ֣י גְּבִרְתִּ֔י אָנֹכִ֖י בֹּרַֽחַת׃ (ט) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֔ה שׁ֖וּבִי אֶל־גְּבִרְתֵּ֑ךְ וְהִתְעַנִּ֖י תַּ֥חַת יָדֶֽיהָ׃ (י) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֔ה הַרְבָּ֥ה אַרְבֶּ֖ה אֶת־זַרְעֵ֑ךְ וְלֹ֥א יִסָּפֵ֖ר מֵרֹֽב׃ (יא) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֔ה הִנָּ֥ךְ הָרָ֖ה וְיֹלַ֣דְתְּ בֵּ֑ן וְקָרָ֤את שְׁמוֹ֙ יִשְׁמָעֵ֔אל כִּֽי־שָׁמַ֥ע יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־עָנְיֵֽךְ׃ (יב) וְה֤וּא יִהְיֶה֙ פֶּ֣רֶא אָדָ֔ם יָד֣וֹ בַכֹּ֔ל וְיַ֥ד כֹּ֖ל בּ֑וֹ וְעַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־אֶחָ֖יו יִשְׁכֹּֽן׃ (יג) וַתִּקְרָ֤א שֵׁם־יְהוָה֙ הַדֹּבֵ֣ר אֵלֶ֔יהָ אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל רֳאִ֑י כִּ֣י אָֽמְרָ֗ה הֲגַ֥ם הֲלֹ֛ם רָאִ֖יתִי אַחֲרֵ֥י רֹאִֽי׃ (יד) עַל־כֵּן֙ קָרָ֣א לַבְּאֵ֔ר בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִ֑י הִנֵּ֥ה בֵין־קָדֵ֖שׁ וּבֵ֥ין בָּֽרֶד׃ (טו) וַתֵּ֧לֶד הָגָ֛ר לְאַבְרָ֖ם בֵּ֑ן וַיִּקְרָ֨א אַבְרָ֧ם שֶׁם־בְּנ֛וֹ אֲשֶׁר־יָלְדָ֥ה הָגָ֖ר יִשְׁמָעֵֽאל׃ (טז) וְאַבְרָ֕ם בֶּן־שְׁמֹנִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֵׁ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֑ים בְּלֶֽדֶת־הָגָ֥ר אֶת־יִשְׁמָעֵ֖אל לְאַבְרָֽם׃ (ס)
(1) Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. (2) And Sarai said to Abram, “Look, the LORD has kept me from bearing. Consort with my maid; perhaps I shall have a son through her.” And Abram heeded Sarai’s request. (3) So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian—after Abram had dwelt in the land of Canaan ten years—and gave her to her husband Abram as concubine. (4) He cohabited with Hagar and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was lowered in her esteem. (5) And Sarai said to Abram, “The wrong done me is your fault! I myself put my maid in your bosom; now that she sees that she is pregnant, I am lowered in her esteem. The LORD decide between you and me!” (6) Abram said to Sarai, “Your maid is in your hands. Deal with her as you think right.” Then Sarai treated her harshly, and she ran away from her. (7) An angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur, (8) and said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” And she said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” (9) And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and submit to her harsh treatment.” (10) And the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly increase your offspring, And they shall be too many to count.” (11) The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child And shall bear a son; You shall call him Ishmael, For the LORD has paid heed to your suffering. (12) He shall be a wild ass of a man; His hand against everyone, And everyone’s hand against him; He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.” (13) And she called the LORD who spoke to her, “You Are El-roi,” by which she meant, “Have I not gone on seeing after He saw me!” (14) Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it is between Kadesh and Bered.— (15) Hagar bore a son to Abram, and Abram gave the son that Hagar bore him the name Ishmael. (16) Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
9ט
ולמה נתעקרו האמהות ר' לוי משם רבי שילא דכפר תמרתא ורבי חלבו בשם ר' יוחנן שהקב"ה מתאוה לתפלתן ומתאוה לשיחתן שנאמר (שיר /השירים/ ב) יונתי בחגוי הסלע יונתי בחגוי למה עקרתי אתכם בשביל הראיני את מראיך השמיעיני את קולך.
Why were the matriarchs barren? Rabbi Levi said in Rabbi Shila’s name and Rabbi Chelbo in R. Yochanan’s name: Because the Holy One of Blessing yearns for their prayers and supplications, as it is written 'O my dove, you on the clefts of the rock let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice' (Song of Songs 2:14): Why did I make you barren? In order to 'see your face... hear your voice'.
10י
Genesis Rabbah: Composed in Talmudic Israel/Babylon (500 CE). Bereshit Rabbah [Hebrew name] is a talmudic-era midrash on the Book of Genesis. It covers most of the book (excluding genealogies and similar passages) with verse-by-verse and often word-by-word commentary. Written in Hebrew mixed with Aramaic and occasional Greek words, its style is simple and clear.
11יא
(א) שׁפחה מצרית. בַּת פַּרְעֹה הָיְתָה, כְּשֶׁרָאָה נִסִּים שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ לְשָׂרָה אָמַר: מוּטָב שֶׁתְּהֵא בִתִּי שִׁפְחָה בְּבַיִת זֶה וְלֹא גְבִירָה בְּבַיִת אַחֵר:
(1) שפחה מצרית A HANDMAID, AN EGYPTIAN — She was a daughter of Pharaoh; when he saw the miracles which had been performed for Sarah’s take he said, “It is better for my daughter to be a handmaid in this man’s house than be mistress in another man’s house” (Genesis Rabbah 45:1).
12יב
Rashi: 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi, was a medieval French rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and commentary on the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh). Acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of the text in a concise and lucid fashion, Rashi appeals to both learned scholars and beginner students, and his works remain a centerpiece of contemporary Jewish study.
13יג
(א) ויבא אל הגר ותהר. מִבִּיאָה רִאשׁוֹנָה (בראשית רבה): (ב) ותקל גברתה בעיניה. אָמְרָה שָׂרַי זוֹ אֵין סִתְרָהּ כִּגְלוּיָהּ מַרְאָה עַצְמָהּ כְּאִלּוּ הִיא צַדֶּקֶת וְאֵינָהּ צַדֶּקֶת, שֶׁלֹּא זָכְתָה לְהֵרָיוֹן כָּל הַשָּׁנִים הַלָּלוּ, וַאֲנִי נִתְעַבַּרְתִּי מִבִּיאָה רִאשׁוֹנָה (בראשית רבה):
(1) ויבא אל הגר ותהר AND HE CAME UNTO HAGAR AND SHE CONCEIVED from the first union (Genesis Rabbah 45:4). (2) ותקל גברתה בעיניה HER MISTRESS WAS SLIGHTED IN HER EYES — She said, “As regards this woman Sarai, her conduct in private can certainly not be like that in public: she pretends to be a righteous woman, but she cannot really be righteous since all these years she has not been privileged to have children, whilst I have had that blessing from the first union” (Genesis Rabbah 45:4).
14יד
(א) ותענה שרי ותברח מפניה חטאה אמנו בענוי הזה וגם אברהם בהניחו לעשות כן ושמע ה' אל עניה ונתן לה בן שיהא פרא אדם לענות זרע אברהם ושרה בכל מיני הענוי:
(1) And Sarai oppressed her and she fled from her presence (literally face): Our mother sinned in this oppression, and also Abraham in permitting her to do so. And Hashem heard her [Hagar's] oppression and gave her a son who would be a wild ass of a man to oppress the descendants of Abraham and Sarah in all kinds of oppression.
15טו
Writing Prompts:
If only Sarai understood that....
Hagar wished only that.....
Abram couldn't see that......