What inspiration can be drawn from our matriarch Sarah for a Jewish woman in contemporary life? How does the life of Sara, influence our definition of Jewish womanhood? Who was Sarah as a woman in her own right, a wife, and a mother?

A sensitive appraisal of Sarah reveals a strong, self-confident woman, spiritual teacher and leader, connected to G‑d in a deep ongoing relationship, and gifted with prophetic vision and clarity even beyond that of her prophet husband, Abraham.

From Sarah we learn that a woman has two missions in life. She has her own individual mission from the time of her birth up until her marriage. The second is a joint mission with her husband from the time of her marriage. (Maharal)

Our Sages derive this from Sarah’s two names. Before marriage, as a girl Sarah was called 'Yiscah', from sacca, meaning to see or gaze, because she could see the future by holy inspiration and because everyone gazed at her beauty. (Gen. 11:29, Rashi) Sarah was said to be one of the four most beautiful Jewish women ever. (Megila 14a) Yiscah also denotes nesichut -- aristocracy, dignity. When she married, Abraham called her Sarai, meaning ‘my princess.’ (Gen. 11:29, Rashi)

Sarah was a marriage partner par excellence.

Sarah was a marriage partner par excellence. Her relationship with Abraham stands out as exemplary. She was an independent and equal mate. They functioned as a team, working in harmony for the same ideals and goals. They were the true ideal united partnership.

In their joint mission together they were spiritual mentors teaching a revolutionary paradigm of life, the presence of G‑d in the world, to all with whom they came in contact. Sarah was extraordinarily successful in attracting the women of her time to her wherever she and her husband went.

Sara’s spiritual powers were crucial in the success of their mission in Egypt. When Pharaoh captured her and approached to touch her, Sarah prayed to G‑d, where upon an angel came and smote Pharaoh and his entire household with an infectious plague. In this we see an amazingly powerful woman so connected to G‑d that when she speaks, G‑d acts.

Sara’s ability to confront her childlessness in a most creative and selfless way reveals to us an even more profound level of her character. At a time when polygamy was an accepted way of life, Abraham did not take another wife until Sarah asked him to, and then it was only on account of her, to fulfill her will and not his. She was a strong woman in her own right and knew that her childlessness was something that came from G‑d and not for any other reason. At the same time she also understood that raising children is something that develops a person. She therefore decided to give her maid to her husband to marry and have a child, so that she and Abraham could raise him acccording to their own spiritual and educational values.

The miracles that took place in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem...trace their origins back to three miracles...in Sara’s home.

The miracles that took place in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem — the indwelling of the Divine Presence, the freshness of the showbreads, and continuous light of the Menorah — all trace their origins back to three miracles that occurred on a regular basis in Sara’s home. Her Shabbos lights stayed lit from week to week, there was a blessing in her dough that it always satisfied, and a cloud hung over her tent representing the Divine Presence (Midrash) due to the refinement and holiness of their marriage.

As 21st century Jewish women, living the complex lives that we do, what can we learn from Sara?

We see a powerful Jewish woman who actively goes about creating her environment and influencing others, both in her family r community. Where does her strength and self-confidence come from? Sarah was profoundly connected to spiritual values and G‑d. Her bold acts are always based on the deep truth of her Creator and wanting to do the right thing in His eyes.

What is the keystone for this relationship with G‑d? Humility. True humility is being connected to and subservient to the Divine Will over and above one’s own in all of the details of our lives. Humility is the recognition that all of our gifts and talents come not from ourselves but from G‑d’s kindness. We are all blessed with the potential for this level of humility and relationship with G‑d as our inheritance from Sara.

When we make choices in our everyday lives based on G‑d’s Will for Jewish women, anchored in trust in Him, then we are listening to the wise voice of Sarah deep within each of us. By following in our great matriarch grandmother Sara’s footsteps, we are empowered to accomplish great things for ourselves, our families, and the world.

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