The timeless legacy of our first two Matriarchs

What is the mutual spiritual identity of our first two "Imahot"?

Danny Ginsbourg

Judaism Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron

We read in last week’s parsha, (Chayei Sarah 24:67):’And Yitzchak brought her (Rivkah)  into the tent of Sarah, his (deceased) mother’.

Our Sages comment:’The candles that were lit on erev Shabbat, once again burned for the entire week, and the dough was again blessed, and the Cloud of Glory once again ‘rested’ above her dwelling’.

Let us focus on a further ‘spiritual identity’ between our first two Matriachs.

We read (Vayera 21:12) that Sarah Imenu, guided by רוח הקודש:divine insight, had Ishmael expelled from Avraham Avinu’s household, perceiving him to be an ‘existential threat’ to the sanctity and destiny of her family.

Similarly, in our parsha, Rivkah, also guided by רוח הקודש, for the very same reason, ensured that Yaakov, and not Esav, received Yitzchak Avinu’s  blessing, to be his spiritual heir.

Might it not be that Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, was teaching us that the sanctity of the Jewish home, and the instilling of awe of G-d, יראת שמים, is primarily the province of the mother, and that He has endowed them with the special qualities needed to fulfill this critical role?

And, indeed, in the merit of our נשים צדקניות:righteous women, we have remained: (Yitro 19:5)’To Me’-to Hashem-‘a holy nation’.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, in fact, expounds the commandment by Hashem to Avraham Avinu:(Vayera 21:12)’Do all that Sarah tells you’, in this vein, stating:’Even if her words are not to your liking, rely on her judgement; she is better able to ‘sense’ the essence of the matter, than you; since
generally women better sense questions of אופי:character’.

And, perhaps we might, homiletically, find an allusion to this, in the saying of our Sages (Yoma 2.):’ביתו זו אשתו׳’:’A man’s home is his wife’- ‘hinting’ that the woman determines the ‘spiritual character’ of our homes.

And this is why, on each Erev Shabbat, we exalt our wives, with the timeless words of  אשת חיל:’It is the G-d fearing woman who deserves praise’:אשה יראת ה׳ היא תתהלל.