- Psychoanalyzing Our Leaders
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: Im taking another look at Sara laughing whe
being told of the birth of Isaac in one year's time. There is
a Rashi 17:17. Avraham believed and was happy. Sara didn't believe
and made fun. And that's what Hashem "hikpid" (stringent)
on Sara and not on Avraham. I'm a little confused. I'd like some
clarification about not psychoanalyzing our patriarchs and matriarchs.
I originally thought that it's not safe to do that unless one
of the commentators do it. That is to say, I can't deduce from
the text that a mistake was made. However, I can rely on a (reliable)
commentator who points to a mistake. Rashi seems to interpret
that Sara was denying. was my mistake in psychoanalyzing her
denial? Trying to explain why she denied? Is the most we can
say that she was wrong to deny, but we can't understand why she
- Mesora: A Rabbi once
addressed this issue: His point is that we have no grounds to
assume that the patriarchs and matriarchs functioned as we do
regarding psychology. We have to claim ignorance when understanding
the "why's" of their actions, unless as you pointed
out, we are taught some reason by Chazal, the Rabbis. But for
us to assess their psyche, is an inherently flawed undertaking.
It will be based - at best - on our own, greatly inferior understanding
of human psychology, coupled with an ignorance of their great
They were selected by God to act as examples for all mankind.
Their level of perfecton is therefore God's choice - an astonishing
testimony to their achievements, based on their internal perfections.
As their inferiors, not fathoming their motivations and levels
of knowledge of God, we cannot attribute our subjective explanations
for their motives, which are based on a corrupt philosophy, inherited
from those lower than them, and further corrupted by our decayed