SARAH’S SACRIFICE: A MIDRASH
I WILL MAKE OF YOU A GREAT NATION AND I WILL BLESS THEE (Genesis XII, 2). Sarah was ninety years old and still could not give a birth. But, Elohim had a suitable plan for her. She prayed and prayed, anticipating Elohim’s response, and finally was able to give birth to a precious son, as it says: “Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him [and her]” (Genesis XXI, 2). Her son, named Isaac, was given as a gift from Elohim. And Sarah cried with sincere appreciation: “Lord, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Isaac is a gift that cannot be replaced with anything in the world. Lord, how shall I return this favor?” Elohim responded, “Everything has happened according to My plan” for Elohim had made a promise of posterity to Sarah and Abraham saying: “I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis XII, 2) and He added: “And I will bless thee” (Genesis XII, 2).
“AND HE SAID TO HIM, ‘ABRAHAM’” (Genesis XXII, 1). Abraham responded to the voice, “[Yes, Lord,] Here I am” (Genesis XXII, 1). “What task shall I execute?” Elohim responded: “Give an offering to Me, a burnt offering, that thou dost think worthy.” Sarah overheard the task given to Abraham and prayed to Elohim, “Dearest Lord, I heard about the task given to Abraham and I, too, am willing to offer you anything.” Elohim responded, “Yes, I want thee to give Me an offering that thou dost think important.” Sarah pondered: “Would offering stacks of gold be enough, my Lord?” Elohim responded: “Dost thou think that important?” Sarah replied: “Then what would You want?” And Elohim answered: “OFFER THY SON” (Genesis XXII, 2). Sarah hesitantly responded: “My son? My son! My son?! Lord, please… no…. I will offer You anything but my son.” “OFFER THY ONLY SON” (Genesis XXII, 2). And Sarah replied: “Fine, I will offer Ishmael.” “OFFER THY ONLY SON, WHOM THOU DOST LOVE” (Genesis XXII, 2). Sarah, became very nervous and replied: “What does that mean? I love Ishmael with full of my heart…” “OFFER THY ONLY SON, ISAAC” (Genesis XXII, 2).
“AND ABRAHAM AROSE EARLY IN THE MORNING … AND WENT TO THE PLACE THAT ELOHIM HAD SAID” (Genesis XXII, 3). Sarah woke up late and realized that Isaac and Abraham were missing. Sarah worried and, almost moaning, immediately prayed to Elohim: “Dear Lord, Please, stop Abraham from killing Isaac. He is my joy, my happiness, my everything. I thought Isaac was the symbol of Your blessing given to us. Getting rid of him is as withdrawing Your blessing from us. Lord, I will do anything to save Isaac. I will be the offering!” Sarah loved Isaac so much that she decided to go to the land of Canaan to sacrifice her own life to satisfy the Lord; to save Isaac from being a burnt offering. And Elohim accepted and honored Sarah’s request. He commanded His angel to stop Abraham from killing Isaac and to replace Isaac with a ram. And so Sarah died, as it is written: “AND SARAH DIED AT KIRIATH ARBA (HEBRON) IN THE LAND OF CANAAN, AND ABRAHAM WENT TO MOURN FOR SARAH AND TO WEEP OVER HER” (Genesis XXIII, 2) — right after the binding of Isaac.