Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yesterday's Service: From Sarai to Sarah...Palin

The Torah portion yesterday was about Abram's wife Sarai (the same people who God renamed Abraham and Sarah). She was unable to have children, and in that time, that was a vital function for a wife. The had rules for how a man could go about having children if his wife had difficultites, and one of those was to take a concubine from among the household's maids. This is what Sarai suggested that Abram do. They chose Sarai's handmaid Hagar the Egyptian to do the duty.
They then encountered a problem. After Hagar became pregnant, Sarai felt that Hagar no longer respected her.

This is where the lesson came in. Instead of teaching us the story, the Rabbi wanted us to discuss honor, and what it means to honor someone. And he wanted to talk about the opposite of honor, because that is what Hagar did to Sarai.

Firstly, the word for honor that was used in the Hebrew text, translated literally, means "to give weight to". The word used in this story was "to make lighter". There's a bit of room for interpretation as to what exactly that means. In fact, everybody who shared their ideas had a slightly different opinion.

The Rabbi also told us that he found it interesting that the Bible says to "love your neighbors", but does not say the same about your parents. We are supposed to "honor" them, with honor being from the same Hebrew root.

I think this means that God knows that you will have disagreements with your parents (or your masters, if you're a maid), and they will do things and say things that will make you not love them (hopefully only temporarily). Even so, you must be able to respect them because of their positions.

This got us into talking a bit about politics, because similar logic should apply to political leaders. The Rabbi asked, if George W. Bush were to walk through the door, would you shake his hand? He argued that most people would, although most present disagreed. The Rabbi asked about other figures. That brought us from Sarai to Sarah Palin. Most of us would shake hers.

EDIT:  For those who are sent her by Google and want to know Sarah Palin's religion, she says she's Protestant.

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