Torah Fax

Friday, October 26, 2007 - 14 MarCheshvan, 5767 

Torah Reading: VaYera (Genesis  18:1 - 22:24)
Candle Lighting: 5:42 PM
Shabbat ends: 6:41 PM

Happy You’re Happy

Our Parshah tells us that our Matriarch Sarah at the age of ninety had her first child. This incident, which comprised multiple miracles, was obviously the source of great joy for Sarah as the Torah states in this week's parsha:
"Sarah said, "G‑d has made me happy! Whoever hears will be happy for me."
Rashi, quoting the Midrash, clarifies why so many people would rejoice for Sarah: "Many barren women were remembered with her, many sick people were healed on that very day; many prayers were answered with hers, and there was much joy in the word."
Rashi reaches this conclusion based on the assumption that it was unlikely that given the moral level of humanity at that time that everyone would rejoice for Sarah's sake. Hence Rashi (and the Midrash) conclude that when Sarah's miracle occurred so did similar miracles occur for others. As a result everyone was happy.
One could wonder why it was so important that everyone be happy at that time.
Ktav Sofer (a nineteenth century sage) explains that a righteous person of the caliber of Sarah is not happy when something good happens to them personally while it is denied to others. Sarah was only completely happy when everyone experienced a similar result as well.
And this is presumably the meaning of the phrase: "Sarah said, "G‑d has made me happy! Whoever hears will be happy for me." She was in effect saying: "What has made me happy? The fact that whoever hears will be happy as well."
To be sure, Sarah would have been thrilled and grateful for having a child even if no other person was similarly blessed. But her joy would have not been complete.
However, there is still some difficulty here. If our premise is that people were not happy for Sarah; rather their joy was caused by their own personal miracles that they experienced, why does the Torah state: "whoever hears will be happy for me." Why "for me?" Their happiness was for themselves!
Upon further reflection there is even a more profound lesson to be learned from the greatness of Sarah and how we should experience true happiness.
When Sarah's miracle of childbirth extended to other barren women, her joy was magnified because of the joy that they experienced. Initially they were happy because they experienced their own personal miracle. To them it was not in any way connected to her miracle. The fact that they had this miracle happening at the same time that a great miracle occurred with Sarah was to them perhaps a mere coincidence. Perhaps they were not even aware of her miracle. Nonetheless, Sarah was ecstatic that G‑d had performed these wonders for others and that she was not the only one to enjoy G‑d's beneficence.
But, after these people began to reflect on the kindness G‑d had shown them, and after they had heard about the unparalleled miracle that Sarah experienced, they realized that it was not a coincidence. They realized that their good fortune was a consequence of Sarah's miracle. Sarah as the righteous and holy woman she served as a conduit of G‑d's blessings to the entire world. And the more people realized the connection between their blessing and Sarah's the more they began to rejoice at her miracle. They began to feel a kinship to her and a sense of joy at her good fortune began to permeate them.
In other words, Sarah's trait of wanting to share her blessings with others eventually rubbed off on them. They too began to feel good because of her blessings.
At this point, Sarah's joy was also magnified. Now she was happy not only because of her miracle. Not only was she happy because G‑d showered His miracles and kindness on others as well. She was also overjoyed that the other recipients of G‑d's blessings had matured to the point that they were happy for her sake!
Now we can understand the Sarah's statement: "G‑d has made me happy! Whoever hears will be happy for me." Sarah's happiness at this point was due to the fact that others were also happy and that their happiness was because she was blessed; a mature happiness.
One of the human frailties that will be corrected in the Messianic Age is our self-centeredness. We are so self-absorbed that we do not appreciate our blessings. Even the miracles that abound in our lives do not induce much joy.
Even when we do feel good about our blessings we think solely of our own good fortune we can often disregard the plight of others. We may not be bothered by their suffering or uplifted by their salvation. This is a symptom of exile.
In a state of Redemption we will always count our blessings and rejoice for them. Moreover, our joy will be enhanced when we realize that others were also rewarded with goodness. But our joy will be complete when we see, as Sarah did, how others have grown to appreciate the good fortune of others as well.



Moshiach Matters       

The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni) tells us that in the future, G‑d will reveal the secrets of the Torah through Moshiach. The Rambam, in his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin) says the samething: “Wondrous (Torah teachings) will be revealed through him (Moshiach).” (Likkutei Sichot, vol. 22, pg. 76, note 10,11)
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