Parshas Chayei Sarah: The Satan’s backup plan

 

What was Avrohom feeling after passing the test of the akeida, the sacrifice that (thankfully) wasn’t?
Exhilarated? Relieved, knowing that he didn’t have to sacrifice his son?
No doubt he probably left the mountain on a high. He had passed the test set for him by G-D.

And then he arrives home to find his beloved wife Sarah. Dead.
The Satan had shown her live graphic coverage of Avrohom plunging the knife into her son’s body. As a mother, this was too much for her.
Not exactly a happy ending to the story.

When I last checked, I understood that the Satan’s role was to create obstacles for us to overcome. Murdering old ladies surely wasn’t part of his job description!

The explanation given is beautiful.
The Satan knew the power of what Avrohom was about to do. He tried every trick in the book to stop him. Eventually, the Satan was forced to retreat and let Avraham go on his way.
But the Satan had a plan B. Get Avrohom to regret his good deed, and the merit accrued to him would be destroyed. Knowing that Sarah’s alloyed time was up, the Satan attempted to (half literally) ‘kill two birds with one stone’.
But Avrohom wasn’t fooled. When the Torah speaks about Avrohom’s mourning period, the word בוכה has spelt with a very small letter ו. He disciplined himself to limit his crying to a few days, so that he wouldn’t feel any shame over what he had done. When the world around him used the incident as proof that G-D was some cruel demon, Avraham proclaimed that Sarah’s passing had nothing to do with his sacrifice. Her time in this world was up, and she would have been taken by some other means. He didn’t feel any need to apologise for doing the right thing.

In the Maariv service, we ask G-D to ‘remove the Satan from in front of us and behind us’. Even after doing a mitzvah, the Evil Inclination is able to attack from behind, simply by planting the seeds of self doubt. Society may scorn us or consider us to be backward. But when your actions are right, you have no reason to apologise for them.

 

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