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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Unlike other commentators who speak about the joy of Isaac's birth and the appropriateness of his name, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch has a cynical view of Isaac's name. Which opinion is closest to your own?

In your opinion, how is the Noah ben Shea passage relevant to this biblical text?

D'var Torah

The world seems very different since September 11, 2001. For weeks, many of us walked around as if in shock, regardless of how near or how far we were physically from the site of the attacks. For a while, it seemed as if we would never again know joy or lightness--an expected and understandable response, to be sure. And yet, joy and lightness were precisely what was needed in order for us to begin to live again.

Sarah may have carried tremendous grief within herself at not being able to bear a child. Thus when she was finally able to conceive, it is not entirely clear whether she was able to derive joy from that event. On erev (the day before) Rosh Hashanah this year, just six days after the terrorist attacks, our synagogue named a baby before the congregation--an act that demonstrates our determination to seize life's goodness and not succumb to despair. It didn't make the pain and loss disappear, but it did remind us how precious life is. When we are faced with the seemingly senseless trauma of lives cut short, welcoming a new beginning (whether a baby, a friend, or a mission) may be just the right medicine for what ails us.

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Rabbi William Dreskin

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