And God Took Note?

Joy and laughter, often embodied in children, can help us begin to live again after extreme disappointment and tragedy.

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Provided by the Union of Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America.

  • Abraham welcomes three visitors, who announce that Sarah will soon have a son. (18:1-15)

  • Abraham argues with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (18:16-33)

  • Lot's home is attacked by the people of Sodom. Lot and his two daughters escape as the cities are being destroyed. Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt. (19:1-29)

  • Lot impregnates his daughters, and they bear children who become the founders of the nations Moab and Ammon. (19:30-38)

  • Abimelech, king of Gerar, takes Sarah as his wife after Abraham claims that she is his sister. (20:1-18)

  • Isaac is born, circumcised, and weaned. Hagar and her son, Ishmael, are sent away; an angel saves their lives. (21:1-21)

  • God tests Abraham, instructing him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. (22:1-19)

Focal Point

"Adonai took note of Sarah as promised, and Adonai did for Sarah as spoken. Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken. Abraham gave his newborn son, whom Sarah had borne him, the name of Isaac. And when his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, 'God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me.' And she added, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would suckle children! Yet I have borne a son in his old age.' The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned." (Genesis 21:1-8)

Your Guide

Why were Sarah and Abraham given a baby in their old age?

What were their reactions to this event? How did pregnancy and birth affect their lives? How might a similar experience affect your own life?

The last thing Sarah expected was to experience the joy of motherhood so late in her life. How do you think she felt about her life's goodness and fullness at her age? How would you have expected her to react to the news that she would bear a child?

Can you think of some examples from your own life that have brought a surprising degree of joy following disappointment?

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Rabbi William Dreskin

Rabbi William Dreskin is the rabbi of Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains, NY.