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Who are Hannah & Sarah?

Posted Mar 30 2009 12:00am
"Be fruitful and multiply."

Perhaps the most basic of the commandments in Judaism, and yet, three of the four Matriarchs were infertile. A cruel twist of fate? Harsh punishment or ultimate test of faith? I'm not here to debate theology, but rather, I reflect on what these two very different reactions to infertility can teach us from the Torah.

Hannah, in the Book of Samuel, is barren and weeps before the Lord. She prays day in and day out, and promises her child to the service of the Lord if He but answers her prayer. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, laughs when the Lord says she will bear a child in her old age after years of being barren. Both women do conceive and bear sons.

The journey through infertility is much the same: tears, laughter, and ultimately, faith.

(For more information on infertility in the Torah/Bible, I highly recommend Michael Gold's ; it's out of print, but is an excellent in-depth look at the whole phenomenon.)
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