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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Beresheet: Parashat Vayera: Laughing Out Loud

Contributed by: Rabbi Haim Shaul

At the end of last week's Parasha and the beginning of this week's Parasha, we find both Abraham and Sarah laughing. When Hashem told Abraham that he would have a son he laughed. This laugh went without criticism by Hashem. However, when Sarah learns that she and Abraham will have a son, she laughed to herself saying, "After I have grown old, can I have such a pleasure, when my husband is old?" Hashem then said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say "Shall I indeed give birth, being so old? Is anything too wondrous for Hashem? At the appointed time I will return to you, in this season, and Sarah will have a son."

Why was Sarah criticized but not Abraham? From the verse we see that when Abraham laughed, he laughed out loud and thought to himself can a 100 year-old man and a 90 year old woman have a child?

Sarah, however, laughed "within herself" and "thought out loud" an expression of cynicism and disbelief. It indicates an inner doubt in the possibility of the absurd, a quiet mocking of the unbelievable.

This is why she denied laughing, because it was an internal reaction to the idea of having a child. Abraham however, by laughing out loud, shared in the absurdity of having a child but didn’t mock the idea.

In the future, the Torah tells us we will fill our mouths with laughter, to express our belief and relief in the coming of the Mashiah.
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