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    Stages in mourning – Vayyera

    The burial of Sarah, by Gustave Dore

    Some views suggest that hearing of Isaac’s near death gave Sarah a shock which proved fatal.

    She had not known of God’s call to Abraham and only heard of the whole course of events after they were over and after Abraham and Isaac came home.

    The impact of her death is described in next week’s sidra, Chayyei Sarah, in Chapter 23 of B’reshit which tells of the death of Sarah and how Abraham mourned for her. He came lis’pod l’Sarah v’liv’kotah – “to eulogise Sarah and to weep for her”.

    The narrative follows a peculiar order, first the eulogy and then the weeping.

    It cannot possibly be that Abraham did not realise the extent of the tragedy at first and only started weeping once he had put the occasion into words.

    The truth may really be quite the opposite. Abraham was genuinely torn to pieces by the death but he knew that Sarah belonged to the family, to the community, to history, and not just to him personally.

    He felt he had to comfort the others first and to sum her up for them before he could give way to his own individual grief.

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