Transforming the curse into a blessing

When humankind was created, God gave the following blessing (Breisheet 1:28) “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and dominate the fish of the sea and the birds of the heaven and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Two chapters later, after eating from the tree, we read about the punishment for “the woman” (Breisheet 3:16): “I will greatly increase your sorrow and your pregnancy. You will give birth to children in pain. Your desire will be for your husband and he will dominate you.”

Rashi comments that “your sorrow” refers to the pain of rearing children, “your pregnancy” refers to the pain of pregnancy and “you will give birth to children with pain” refers to the pain of childbirth.

A few verses later (3:20) we see that “HaAdam, the man, names his wife Chava because she would become the mother of all of the living.”

It seems from here that every woman will be subjected to the punishment that the first woman received. However, according to Sforno, in the case of Sarah, the curse was actually transformed into a blessing.

From when we first meet Sarai, in Breisheet 11:30, we are told “Sarai was barren, she had no child.” At that point she was sixty-five years old.

In Breisheet 17:15-16, twenty-four years later, God changes Avram’s name to Avraham and then he changes Sarai’s name as well:

And God said to Avraham, “As for Sarai your wife, do not call her by the name Sarai, for Sarah is her name. I will bless her and I will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will be a mother of nations, kings of peoples will descend from her.”

Sforno comments that Sarah’s blessing will be the opposite of the first woman’s punishment: she will have an easy pregnancy, she will not have pain when giving birth and raising the child will not be difficult.

After Sarah spent many years unable to conceive, God gave her an easy pregnancy and childbirth. From everything that we know, Yitzchak was well behaved and didn’t give his parents any problems.

May all those who are trying to conceive be bestowed with Avraham and Sarah’s blessings and may they be granted the child that they have been praying for. We hope that all women will be granted an easy pregnancy and childbirth and that their children will not give them too much trouble!

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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