How is saying no to God an act of love?
Parashat Chayei Sarah begins with the telling of the death of Sarah, our matriarch.
Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson explains how when Sarah told God, “No, I cannot endure this,” she taught us that it is not only okay to say no to God but it can also be seen as an act of love and faith towards God.
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When was the last time you said no to God?
Do you remember a moment like that? Do you remember an experience? Do you remember a moment of suffering? When you said, “I can’t do this anymore?”
There’s a wonderful debate in the Talmud between Rabbi Yaakov and Rabbi Bar Idi about suffering for God’s love (can you imagine that?). One says, “I can endure anything as long as I can pray.” And the other says. “I can endure anything as long as I can learn.”
So what for you would that be? I can endure as long as..? We each have a different response to that. What is your response?
So, here we are, in Parashat Chayei Sarah, where it is written, “Sarah lived to 120 years and seven years, the years of her life.”
The Piasetzna Rebbe teaches in his book ‘Holy Fire’, about Sarah, who upon hearing about the binding of Isaac, says, “Master of the world, I can’t do this, I can’t endure this.” And the Piasetzna Rebbe says two things: one, that she is evoking God’s consciousness to say ‘we can’t do this, maybe I can endure this but if I endure this, you’ll think it’s ok and I can’t do that. I cannot sacrifice a child.” He goes even further and says that she did this intentionally to show God this is impossible, this is too much.
When in our life are those moments that we come so close to saying “Master of the world, divine mother, too much, too hard, don’t, don’t ask this of me, I can’t endure this”?
Sarah teaches us that it’s ok to say no and that it’s ok to say, “I can’t do this.” She takes her life, so to speak, and says “I can’t do this.”
When are those moments in our life, where we feel the need to say, “Master of the world, I can’t’? Sarah is also teaching us that saying no to God is an act of love.
Saying no to God is a relationship with God, is a belief in God, is to have faith in God. It’s important we hold on to that as well and don’t think that our no is a failure, sometimes our ‘no’ is a statement of our strength. So when are those moments?
God forbid we should learn from these moments, I pray that we never know. But the Piasetna Rebbe is also telling us, when we are confronted in those moments that we have the virtue of Sarah, our matriarch, to say to God, “No, too much, I can’t endure this. They are both acts of love.”
Reb Mimi serves as the Mashpiah Ruchanit (spiritual mentor) of the Rabbinical School, and teaches Talmud and Hassidic Thought. She will guide and walk with the rabbinical students on their personal-spiritual journeys. She served as the Mashpiah Ruchanit of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles for the last 16 years. Prior to this Reb Mimi was one of the founding administration and faculty members of the “Yakar” Beit Midrash and community.